Expert Advice

What can I do about sweaty, smelly feet?

Toe these lines and you'll kick off your shoes with confidence.

What can I do about sweaty, smelly feet?
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As a first line of treatment for excessive sweating and foot odor, I usually recommend Certain Dri Antiperspirant Roll-On [available at]. It's designed for underarm use but contains a high concentration of aluminum that can dry out feet so they don't sweat as much. Apply to the bottom of your feet just before bed. If that doesn't work, ask your doctor to prescribe a cream that contains higher levels of aluminum.

In the summer, try wearing open-toed shoes and sandals to allow the sweat to evaporate more easily. Look for shoes made with natural rather than synthetic fibers. Real leather, for example, has pores that help feet breathe more easily, while synthetic leather does not. When it's particularly hot out, you may need to change your socks more than once throughout the day.
--Helena Reid, spokeswoman for the American Podiatric Medical Association

Smelly feet are usually the result of moisture, which creates a breeding ground for bacteria, so it's important to decrease wetness and increase air circulation. Wear socks made from natural fibers such as cotton, which wicks the moisture away from your feet. Slip on shoes made from cotton canvas or leather; they allow for greater air circulation. Go barefoot as often as you safely can. And don't wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row--they need time to dry out.

A natural antiperspirant applied to the bottom of your foot can soak up some of the moisture. It's also important to have a sufficient intake of zinc, which makes the skin more resistant to bacteria; be sure you're getting at least 15 milligrams per day. Sweating can sometimes result from consuming too much caffeine, so try cutting back on caffeinated beverages like soda, coffee, and tea.
--Koren Barrett, N.D., Irvine, Calif.-based naturopathic doctor

To fight fungus, reduce sweat, and protect against athlete's foot, soak your feet in water mixed with pleasant-smelling botanical essences that also have anti-fungal properties. Place 2 tablespoons each of baking soda and Epson salts (or sea salt, if you prefer) in a small bowl, add two drops each of tea tree, geranium, and cypress essential oils, and mix well. Fill a foot basin or the bottom of your tub with warm or tepid water, add the salt mixture, swirl around to mix, soak your feet for 15 minutes, then dry thoroughly.

If you use a foot powder, choose one made with clay, which absorbs more than 200 times its weight in moisture. Powders with a cornstarch base cake easily and contain nutrients that feed fungal spores, which could make the problem worse.
--Valerie Cooksley, R.N., holistic nurse, aromatherapist, and author of Healing Home Spa



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