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Our foot sometimes gives out an unpleasant smell which is very much embarrassing. ( medical term bromohidrosis)
It is a type of body odor that affects the feet of humans.The quality of foot odor is often reported as a thick smell. Some describe the smell like that of malt vinegar. However, it can also be ammonia-like. Brevibacteria are considered a major cause of foot odor because they ingest dead skin on the feet and, in the process, convert amino acid methionine into methanethiol, which has a sulfuric aroma. The dead skin that fuels this process is especially common on the soles and between the toes. The brevibacteria is also what gives cheeses such as Limburger, Bel Paese, Port du Salut, Pálpusztai and Munster their characteristic pungency.
Propionic acid (propanoic acid) is also present in many foot sweat samples. This acid is a breakdown product of amino acids by Propionibacteria, which thrive in the ducts of adolescent and adult sebaceous glands. The similarity in chemical structures between propionic acid and acetic acid, which share many physical characteristics such as odor, may account for foot odors identified as being vinegar-like. Isovaleric acid (3-methyl butanoic acid) is the other source of foot odor and is a result of actions of the bacteria Staphylococcus epidermidis which is also present in several strong cheese types.
Other implicated micro-organisms include Micrococcaceae, Corynebacterium and Pityrosporum.
Bart Knols, of Wageningen Agricultural University, the Netherlands, received an “IG Nobel” prize in 2006 for showing that the female malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae “is attracted equally to the smell of limburger cheese and to the smell of human feet”. Fredros Okumu, of Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania, received grants in 2009 and 2011 to develop mosquito attractants and traps to combat malaria. He uses a blend of eight chemicals, which is four times more effective than an actual human.
The feet and hands contain more sweat glands than any other part of the body, with roughly 3,000 glands per square inch. Smelly feet are not only embarrassing, but can be physically uncomfortable as well.
Feet smell for two reasons: 1) shoe wear, and 2) sweating of the feet. The interaction between the perspiration and the bacteria that thrive in shoes and socks generates the odor.
Smelly feet or excessive sweating can also be caused by an inherited condition, called hyperhidrosis, which primarily affects men. Stress, some medications, fluid intake, and hormonal changes also can increase the amount of perspiration our bodies produce.
The main cause is foot sweat. Sweat itself is odorless, but it creates a beneficial environment for certain bacteria to grow and produce bad-smelling substances. These bacteria are naturally present on our skin as part of the human flora. Therefore, more smell is created with factors causing more sweating, such as wearing shoes and/or socks with inadequate air ventilation for many hours. Hair on the feet, especially on the toes, may contribute to the odor’s intensity by adding increased surface area in which the bacteria can thrive.
Given that socks directly contact the feet, their composition can have an impact on foot odor. Polyester and nylon are common materials used to make socks, but provide less ventilation than cotton or wool do when used for the same purpose. Wearing polyester or nylon socks may increase perspiration and therefore may intensify foot odor. Because socks absorb varying amounts of perspiration from feet, wearing shoes without socks may increase the amount of perspiration contacting feet and thereby increase bacterial activities that cause odor
The best home remedy for foot odor is to soak feet in strong black tea for 30 minutes a day for a week. The acid in the tea kills the bacteria and closes the pores, keeping your feet dry longer. Use two tea bags per pint of water. Boil for 15 minutes, then add two quarts of cool water. Soak your feet in the cool solution. Alternately, you can soak your feet in a solution of one part vinegar and two parts water.
Persistent foot odor can indicate a low-grade infection or a severe case of hereditary sweating. In these cases, a prescription ointment may be required to treat the problem.
Treating Excessive Sweating:
A form of electrolysis, called iontophoresis, has been shown to reduce excessive sweating of the feet. However, it is more difficult to administer. In the worst cases of hyperhidrosis, a surgeon can cut the nerve that controls sweating. Recent advances in technology have made this surgery much safer, but may increase sweating in other areas of the body.
Methods of extinguishment may be used even before onset of the odor as prevention. However, a very effective and cheap way to prevent foot odor is with sodium bicarbonate (a mildly basic white salt also known as baking soda, bread soda, cooking soda, bicarbonate of soda, sodium bicarb, bicarb soda, or simply bicarb). Sodium bicarbonate
will create a hostile environment unsuitable for the bacteria responsible for the bad smell. Four pinches of it on each foot everyday are usually enough (two inside the sock and two on the insole of the shoe). Sometimes it might take one or two days before the shoes completely lose their old smell. Washing your feet and applying the sodium bicarbonate daily are also potentially useful solutions.
While there are a number of other remedies, sodium bicarbonate, if bought in a supermarket, costs approximately 20 times less than common odor-eaters or odor-killer powders.
Swabbing feet twice daily with isopropyl alcohol, found at your local drug store, for two weeks is a cheap and highly effective cure. One can also periodically remove their footwear, to reduce foot moisture and thereby reduce bacterial spawn.
Some types of powders and activated charcoal insoles, such as odor eaters, have been developed to prevent foot odor by keeping the feet dry. Special cedarsoles can be recommended for this purpose because of their antibacterial characteristics. Hygiene is considered important in avoiding odor, as is avoidance of synthetic shoes/socks, and rotation of the pairs of shoes worn
In general, smelly feet can be controlled with a few preventive measures:
•Always wear socks with closed shoes.
•Avoid wearing nylon socks or plastic shoes. Instead, wear shoes made of leather, canvas, mesh, or other materials that let your feet breathe.
•Bathe feet daily in lukewarm water, using a mild soap. Dry thoroughly.
•Change socks and shoes at least once a day.
•Check for fungal infections between toes and on the bottoms of your feet. If any redness or dry, patchy skin is observed, get treatment right away.
•Don’t wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. If you frequently wear athletic shoes, alternate pairs so that the shoes can dry out. Give your shoes at least 24 hours to air out between wearings; if the odor doesn’t go away, discard the shoes.
•Dust your feet frequently with a nonmedicated baby powder or foot powder. Applying antibacterial ointment also may help.
•Practice good foot hygiene to keep bacteria levels at a minimum.
•Wear thick, soft socks to help draw moisture away from the feet. Cotton and other absorbent materials are best.
Once foot odor has begun, it can be extinguished, or at least alleviated, by either aromatic deodorants that neutralise the odor by their own smell, or by absorbers of the odor itself.
Among the earliest foot deodorants were aromatic herbs such as allspice, which nineteenth-century Russian soldiers would put in their boots.
Odor absorbers include activated charcoal foot insert wafers, such as Innofresh footwear odor absorbers.
General Tips: To tackle this problem, wash your feet with an antibacterial soap such as Neko and use a fresh pair of cotton socks daily. You can also apply deodorant to the soles of your feet. The best thing would be to buy another pair of work shoes and alternate wearing the two pairs so that the shoes have time to dry out.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.