It is one of those words that could help you win a game of Trivial Pursuit. Bromodosis, what is it? Actually it is a very common condition that most people have experienced at some time or another. It is actually the name for smelly feet. It doesn’t only happen during the summer, it can happen at any time and friends and family can suffer when you remove your footwear too.
Anyone can get it. There are no exceptions; however some people are more likely to have smelly feet than others. Teenagers, people under stress, pregnant women are all more likely to get the condition. Certain prescription medicines can make you more liable too, and if you suffer from hyperhydrosis you have an increased risk too, and if you are on your feet all day, which cause excessive sweating also makes you a target. Infections such as athlete’s foot can also produce smelly feet.
The main cause is very simple to understand, it’s a combination of sweaty feet and wearing the same shoes daily. The feet have more sweat glands than any other part of our bodies and they release sweat whether the rest of our body is hot or not. Pregnant women and teenagers are prone to catching it because their bodies are being subjected to hormonal variations which trigger sweating much more frequently.
The reason that feet can become smelly is because sweat soaks into the shoes and doesn’t get a chance to dry before the shoes are worn again. The cheesy smell is actually sweat decomposing as it meets with bacteria already present on the skin.
“Your feet sweat into your shoes all day so they get damp and bacteria starts to grow. The bacteria continue to breed once you’ve taken your shoes off, especially if you put them in a dark cupboard” says Lorraine Jones, chiropodist and spokeswoman for the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists. This generates the best situation for bacteria to grow. If you put these shoes back on, even after washing your feet or having a shower the situation for the bacteria to thrive still exists. That is dark, warm, and moist.
How to stop Feet from Smelling
Good personal hygiene is required to help keep feet odour free. Wash your feet frequently, making sure that you dry them properly and change your socks at the same time. The best material for socks is cotton or wool, try to avoid nylon.
Another very good tip is to ensure that the shoes are totally dry before wearing. The easy way to do that is to wear a different pair of shoes each day. This allows enough time for the previous pair to dry out before being worn again. If you have teenagers then buy them two pairs of their favourite shoes and make sure that on successive days they wear a different pair.
There are other good suggestions to alleviate the problem of smelly feet. The use of medicated insoles in your shoes is simple to do and the deodorising effect can be helpful in some cases. Avoid plastic shoes as they stop your feet from breathing, canvas or leather shoes are much better. When you are at home remove your footwear and go barefoot and if the weather is good then wear shoes like sandals which allow air to circulate around the feet.
Many people spend a lot on specialist foot deodorant sprays but a standard under arm antiperspirant works just as well. Just give your feet a quick spray before putting on your shoes. There are some newer types of sports socks available which are impregnated with chemicals that minimise odours. These are worth a try too. And finally, you could try using surgical spirit. After drying your feet thoroughly with a towel just dab a little between your toes. This works because surgical spirit has astringent, antiseptic and dehydrating qualities.
Lorraine Jones, chiropodist says that all of the ideas above are good but reinforces that the best advice she can give is, “Never wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. Instead, wear different shoes on successive days so they have a minimum of 24 hours to dry out”.
There are some very good over the counter remedies for foot odour nowadays according to Jones. And they provide fresh smelling feet quickly. She recommends an anti bacterial soap called Hibiscrub. Just wash your feet with Hibiscrub, leave it on for a few minutes and then rinse. But she cautions do not use it if you have broken skin on your feet. Repeat the washing twice a day for a week and smelly feet will be a thing of the past.
Is it Time to see a Doctor?
Smelly feet can be an indication of an underlying medical condition so if it doesn’t clear up after a reasonable amount of time then it’s best to go to the doctor for a check up. If you feel that the amount of sweat you are producing is abnormally high and you’ve followed all the good advice about trying to avoid smelly feet then it may be time for a chat with your GP too.
Your doctor has a number of options to help you. Initially he may offer you an antiperspirant available only with prescription. Another form of treatment is called iontophoresis. A minor electric current is passed through a basin of water which has your feet in it, and the effect is that your feet reduce their sweating.