I am a hygienic person and I shower twice everyday. However, my feet are smelly and at times I get embarrassed to remove my shoes when I go to visit my friends. How can I overcome this problem?
Jean Claude, Kigal
Dear Jean Claude
It is good to keep good personal hygiene, but smelly feet can occur due to unclean damp shoes as well. There are maximum sweat glands in feet and bad smell occurs due to bacterial decomposition of sweat. If one wears shoes with socks (mostly nylon ones) throughout the day, in the evening sometime, the shoes are damp with sweat produced during the day. Next day, the person puts on the shoes again just after cleaning the external surface, thus the dampness. The mugginess itself causes feet to smell. It also makes one more susceptible to fungal infection of the feet. These would also cause the feet to smell bad and there maybe associated itching.
Walking barefoot over damp surfaces like a bathroom floor or side of swimming pool can also cause the same condition.
People with diabetes and conditions of reduced resistance are more prone to such infections.
One can have hyperhidrosis, that is excess sweating due to several reasons. This can also be the cause.
It is advisable to keep the feet clean and dry all the time. Any dead skin of feet should be removed regularly, with a scrub or pumice stone. After a shower or washing the feet they should be wiped dry. Toe nails should be kept short and clean, otherwise they can become a source of infection. One should avoid wearing the same shoes everyday if possible, to let the prevailing interior dampness to dry up. Nylon socks should be avoided and one should preferably use cotton socks or woolen socks in cold weather. Shoes of leather or canvass should be preferred over plastic shoes or sandals. Dabbing feet every night with cotton wool soaked in surgical spirit helps to keep feet clean and free from infections
Dusting powders used regularly at least two times daily help to keep feet dry and prevent emission of bad odor. One can use anti perspiration or anti fungal dusting powders.
If in spite of following measures to avoid smelly feet, bad odor still prevails, it is advisable to consult a doctor and take treatment for possible infection.
Dr Rachna Pande is a specialist in internal medicine at Ruhengeri Hospital