Ever wonder why feet are so stinky? We wanted to share this very interesting and helpful article first posted on kidshealth.org. We hope you enjoy it and would love to know your comments.
The Health Clinic Team
Why Do Feet Stink?
They’re your tootsies, your dogs, your piggies. Whatever you call them, feet are an important part of you. Without them, you couldn’t stand up, walk around, or run a race. In fact, your feet work so hard for you that sometimes they get sweaty. And stinky.
Think of a hot, summer day when you’ve been walking around an amusement park all afternoon. Oooh, boy — your feet have been in those sneakers a long time! On the car ride home, you decide to kick off your shoes. It feels good, but it smells bad. In fact, you might get an earful from the other passengers in the car: P.U. — what stinks?
Bacteria are to blame. These tiny critters normally inhabit your feet and love dark, damp places like the insides of sweaty shoes. They multiply in sweat, so if you don’t wear socks, that really gets them going.
In the right conditions, bacteria will feast on your feet. These bacteria eat dead skin cells and oils from your skin. Their colonies will grow and start getting rid of waste in the form of organic acids. It’s those organic acids that smell bad.
And for 10% to 15% of people, the smell is really bad. Why? Because their feet are extra sweaty and become home to bacteria called Kyetococcus sedentarius (say: kite-oh-KAH-kus SEH-den-tair-ee-us). These bacteria produce more than just stinky organic acids — they also produce stuff called volatile sulfur compounds. Sulfur compounds usually are powerful and awful smelling. If you’ve ever smelled a rotten egg, you know what volatile sulfur compounds smell like.
What Can You Do?
There’s usually no need to worry about stinky feet. But if the stink bothers you or someone notices it, you may want help to step in.
So how can you stop your feet from stinking? Well, you might not be able to stop stink completely. But if you cut down on sweat, you’ll cut down on the odor.
Try these steps:
- Be clean. Wash your feet every day. Dipping your feet into a tub of water and scrubbing may be better than just letting the shower water splash on them. Be sure to dry your feet when you’re done.
- Wear the right socks. Cotton, some wools, and special knits made for athletes will absorb sweat and allow your feet to breathe. Put on a fresh pair every day, and also if the socks get damp.
- Make sure your shoes aren’t too tight. If they are, your feet might sweat more than normal.
- Switch shoes. Wearing the same shoes every day can make them smellier. Let them dry out for a couple of days before wearing them again.
- Kill those germs. Ask your mom or dad about using a disinfectant spray to kill bacteria in your shoes. You also might wash your feet with antibacterial soap. Setting shoes out in the sun also may help.
- Wash shoes or insoles. Some insoles or shoes, especially sneakers, may be washable — a great way to kill odors and get clean-smelling shoes again. Be sure to dry them completely before wearing them.
- Avoid shoes made of plastic. Plastic and some human-made materials don’t let your feet breathe.
- Go barefoot. Let your feet air out by letting them spend some time in the open air, especially at night. But don’t go barefoot too much — especially in the outdoors — because that can invite certain bacteria (like that Kyetococcus) to live on your feet!
- Don’t share shoes or towels with others. If you do, that may transfer stink-causing bacteria from other people’s feet to yours. Gross!
If you still have problems with foot odor, talk with your mom or dad to get their opinion. If they agree think the stink is a concern, they can try getting you odor-fighting powder or insoles. If nothing seems to work, you might want to talk with your doctor about what to do. The doctor may give you a special medicine to put on your feet.
For most people, foot odor can be controlled. The worst part about having stinky feet is that it’s embarrassing. If you’re worried about this, just keep your shoes on when you’re in social situations, like when you’re at school or riding in a car.
At home, keep your feet clean and go barefoot so they get some air. If your feet are clean and dry, those bacteria will have to find their lunch somewhere else!
Reviewed by: George Preti, PhD
Date reviewed: October 2014
Everyday Preventive Actions That Can Help Fight Germs, like The Flu
The Center for Disease Control (or CDC) recommends a three-step approach to fighting influenza ( commonly known as The Flu). The first and most important step is to get a flu vaccination each year. But if you get the flu, there are prescription antiviral drugs that can treat your illness. Early treatment is especially important for the elderly, the very young, people with certain chronic health conditions, and pregnant women. Finally, everyday preventive actions may slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat, and lungs) illnesses, like flu.
How does the flu spread?
Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. Flu viruses also may spread when people touch something with flu virus on it and then touch their mouth, eyes, or nose. Many other viruses spread these ways too. People infected with flu may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. That means you may be able to spread the flu to someone else before you know you are sick as well as while you are sick. Young children, those who are severely ill, and those who have severely weakened immune systems may be able to infect others for longer than 5-7 days.Person washing hands
What are everyday preventive actions?
• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you or your child gets sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you (or your child) stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. The fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine. • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol- based hand rub. • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
• If an outbreak of flu or another illness occurs, follow public health advice. This may include information about how to increase distance between people and other measures. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases What additional steps can I take at work to help stop the spread of germs that can cause respiratory illness, like flu?Man sneezing into a tissue
• Find out about your employer’s plans if an outbreak of flu or another illness occurs and whether flu vaccinations are offered on-site.
• Routinely clean frequently touched objects and surfaces, including doorknobs, keyboards, and phones, to help remove germs.
• Make sure your workplace has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs, and disposable wipes.
• Train others on how to do your job so they can cover for you in case you or a family member gets sick and you have to stay home.
• If you begin to feel sick while at work, go home as soon as possible.Mother taking care of sick child What additional preventive actions can I take to protect my child from germs that can cause respiratory illness, like flu?
• Find out about plans your child’s school, child care program, or college has if an outbreak of flu or another illness occurs and whether flu vaccinations are offered on-site.
• Make sure your child’s school, child care program, or college routinely cleans frequently touched objects and surfaces, and that they have a good supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs, and disposable wipes on-site.
• Ask how sick students and staff are separated from others and who will care for them until they can go home. Everyday preventive actions can help slow the spread of germs that can cause many different illnesses and may offer some protection against the flu.
For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov, or call 1-800-CDC-INFO.
Source: Parent Flu information