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January 2016 Issue
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Mask your foot odour

Avoid unpleasant surprises when removing your boots this summer. Photo: Wilderness

At least a quarter of our sweat glands are on our feet, so it’s no surprise they can get rather whiffy, especially in summer. Podiatrist Kiseon Hong explains why our tootsies sometimes smell like aged cheese, and why you need more than clothes pegs to fix the problem.

What causes foot odour?

Most commonly, a combination of sweat and bacteria. When the bacteria in the sweat eat the dry dead skin cells, they break down into an amino acid and a gas called methanethiol, which causes the smell.
Synthetic footwear and socks can cause more sweating and absorb more fluid, creating an environment where bacteria grows and fungal infections can create yeasty smells.

How can you reduce or eliminate the odour?

  • Foot powder or foot spray helps reduce and control sweating
  • Lamb’s wool keeps the feet dry and reduces friction between toes
  • Charcoal innersoles help absorb and neutralise odour and moisture
  • Cover your feet and shoes in salt water, tea or bicarbonate of soda
  • Soak your feet in alcohol or vinegar
  • Wear woollen or cotton socks
  • Wash feet regularly, ideally with antibacterial soap

If none of the above solves the problem, don’t be embarrassed – go and see a podiatrist.