Q: My feet smell terrible when I get home from work, especially if I've been wearing hose. How can I control nasty foot odor?
A: There are as many smelly feet in the world as there are people. Two per person, in fact. So this isn't so much an embarrassing question as it is a good one, and one we should all know the answer to. Simply put, that foul odor develops from bacteria that grows in moist, hot places–like sweaty feet. By the time you get home after a long day of walking, running, or simply sitting and steaming in summer…yikes! So the only way to prevent the smell is to stop the sweating. Some classic tricks:
1) Wear open shoes. Closed shoes make your feet hotter–and keep the odor all cramped up in there. Sandals, open-toe shoes, or even sneakers with breathable patches, will keep your feet cooler, and allow them to air out when they do start to sweat.
2) Change socks. If you've got to wear closed shoes, try changing socks half way through the day. You'll be at least half as smelly when you get home. And always wear socks made of natural fibers that allow your tootsies to breathe. Your odor is worse when you wear pantyhose because synthetic fabrics cause your feet to sweat more, and neither absorb the resulting odor nor allow it to escape.
3) Keep 'em clean. Don't forget to wash your feet when you shower, using soap and water. In this way, you'll at least start each day with a fresh scent.
4) Deodorize! As with any sweat gland, your tootsies will sweat less if you apply a good anti-perspirant-and-deodorant-in-one. Experts recommend roll-on rather than powder products, as you can then target the particularly sweat-prone area between your toes. If you don't like the idea of rolling your Secret all over your nasty feet, Odor Eaters makes a spray ($5.24) that promises to prevent sweating, deodorize your foot, and absorb odor as it develops.
5) Don't forget the insole. When you sweat in your shoes, your insoles absorb a lot of that moisture. In fact, stinky insoles can be at least as much of a problem as your feet themselves–if not more. So try to air them out at night, and even wash them once a week to keep odor from building up inside your shoes. Or, to make your life easier, just check out a few of the many many products out there that will do all that for you like Dr. Scholl's Odor Destroyers Super Comfort Insoles ($5.69).
Odor-Eaters makes a similar product, which contains charcoal, baking soda, and the ultra-absorbent material Zorbitex. Get their version for $9.99 at Walgreens.