Monday 17 June 2019

Dear Dr Nina: My teenager has the smelliest feet ever - is there anything I can do?

Shoes should be made from breathable material, such as leather.
Shoes should be made from breathable material, such as leather.

Dr Nina Byrnes

Advice from our GP on how to tackle smelly feet.

Is there anything I can do about my teenager's smelly feet?

The odour of smelly feet is largely caused but the build up of bacteria and fungus due the moisture and heat that occur when feet sweat. Care for smelly feet starts with basic hygiene. Wash the feet at least once a day using an antibacterial soap. Soaking feet for up to 20 minutes daily will also help. Once the feet have been washed, dry them fully and carefully. Applying an anti-athlete’s foot powder or spray will help prevent the build up of fungus as the day goes on.

If sweating is a particular problem, spraying with antiperspirant may help. There are sprays specifically for feet but the under arm ones work also. Keep nails short and clean as bacteria and fungus can build up here too.

The best way to keep feet odour-free is to keep them cool, so going barefoot or wearing flip-flops or sandals when possible is a good idea. When you do have to wear shoes, pay attention to what you put on. Never go sock-free. Feet sweat more and then all the bacteria, dead skin and fungus, just stays in your shoes causing more odour build up. Socks should be made from cotton and may need to be changed more than once daily.

Shoes should be made from breathable material, such as leather. Sharing footwear should be avoided. It is a good idea to alternate between pairs of shoes. Between wearings open the shoes up and leave in a dry, well-ventilated environment, allowing each one to dry out before wearing it again. Using anti-infective powders or sprays in your shoe may help reduce odours. It is possible to buy shoe inserts that will help shoes dry, but there are some simple home remedies.

A simple home remedy is to put some kitty litter in the leg of a pair of ladies’ nylon tights and put this inside the shoe. It’ll help dry them and remove any odour. Baking soda inserts may also help.

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