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How to Treat Sweaty, Smelly Feet

Two dermatologists share why your feet are so gross during the summer and what you can do about it.

No one gets through life (or the day) without sweaty feet: The average person’s foot contains about 250,000 sweat glands, which, amazingly, can produce almost a pint of sweat in a day. And if, as is likely the case, those sweaty feet spend the better part of the day cooped up in shoes and that sweat has nowhere to go… well, it’s not long before some serious foot odor takes over. That’s especially true in summer, when your feet log lots of extra miles running around backyard birthday parties, doing yard work, and chasing sugar-high toddlers around the house. Alas, summer is high season for sweaty feet and stinky shoes, which can be hard on your spouse and potentially embarrassing in social situations.

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“Feet contain large amounts of special sweat glands called ‘eccrine’ glands,” the Drs. Goldenberg explain. “These glands are important for thermoregulation — they produce sweat not in reaction to heat, but rather to local tactile stimulation or emotional stress.” But when your glands work overtime, you become susceptible to hyperhidrosis, a.k.a. excessive sweating. According to Drs. Goldenberg, it’s a condition that occurs all year round, but usually gets worse in the summer.

Are there ways to avoid sweaty feet altogether? Other than surgery, not really — but the Goldenbergs suggest avoiding things that stimulate the eccrine glands (such as drinking too much coffee). They also note that foot odor can other causes — stress, for instance, can put people at risk for a smelly fungal infection known as Tinea Pedis.

Having an arsenal of effective products to combat extra-sweaty and smelly feet is key. Drs. Kristina and Gary Goldenberg of Goldenberg Dermatology are the managers of that arsenal — a stockpile of powerful weapons in the eternal battle against foot odor.

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At one point or another, most of us will march our sweaty, stinky feet to the drug store desperately seeking relief. Here are the products that can help you remedy smelly feet.

The Best Products for Getting Rid of Food Odor

No, this spray powder doesn’t permanently decrease the amount of sweat produced, but it will provide relief and comfort as sweat begins to form. ‘The main ingredient that works against hyperhidrosis in this product is talc,’ say Drs. Goldenberg. Essentially, it keeps your skin dry by absorbing moisture and perspiration.

The secret sauce in this spray powder is zinoxol, which helps eliminate foot odors. The main ingredient that works for hyperhidrosis in this product is starch. Dr. Scholl’s Odor Max will keep the skin dry by absorbing moisture and perspiration, though it won’t stop sweating permanently. Drs. Goldenberg say ‘The three pack with 3X Triple Action protection should be enough to keep you dry all summer.’

Name one thing that feels better than soaking your nasty, sweaty feet in cool, soothing tea tree–infused water. This foot soak can help with odor, sure, but it also softens calluses and revives tired feet with its blend of eucalyptus, peppermint, camphor, rosemary and lavender.

Each box of Kleinert’s Dry Feet Antiperspirant Wipes carries an eight-week supply of sealed foot wipes that offer soothing aloe and vitamin E treatment via the large pads. Drs. Goldenberg confirm that the product contains 15 percent aluminum chloride, ‘which is a known, effective antiperspirant.’ They do caution, however, that the aloe and vitamin E may moisten the skin instead of making it dry, so avoid overuse.

This antiperspirant foot lotion was specifically designed to stop sweaty, smelly feet and help you deal with excessive foot sweat. Just use a pea-sized amount of Carpe lotion daily to cut down on foot sweat. It's non-greasy, non-irritating, and it dries fast.

These genius inserts help prevent the growth of bacteria by absorbing sweat and shutting down odors from damp, smelly feet. ‘Charcoal does absorb sweat and moisture,’ say Drs. Goldenberg. ‘But, again, these inserts would not decrease the amount of sweat produced over time.’ Luckily, Emerge Therapeutics Charcoal Shoe Inserts are a relatively cheap and quick fix that you can use on the go.

Yes, folks, this roll-on antiperspirant for your feet stops sweat and foot stench. It contains 22.5 percent aluminum cholride, which is a known and effective antiperspirant. One stick of Neat Feet should be enough to last you at least a month, and Drs. Goldenberg say they ‘would expect the regular use of this product to decrease sweat production and keep the skin dry.’

If you don't want to use a roll-on, try this spray, which deodorizes and keeps feet and shoes fresh. This spray, which has no harsh chemicals, is made from the essential oils of cedarwood, rosemary, and tea tree to keep your dogs fresh and smelling sweet(ish).

This spray does double-duty as a shoe deodorizer and odor-crushing foot spray — and gets your feet healthier in the process. It's aluminum- and parabens-free, and made up of essential oils and botanicals, including lavender, myrrh, peppermint, vitamin E, tea, aloe vera, ginger, and dandelion leaf. A great summer foot refresher, that can also save your shoes from stank.

Though it's a foot spray first and foremost, it's touted as an all-powerful natural deodorizer that can tackle your feet, your shoes — and any unsavory corner in your house, from the garbage cans to your yoga mat. Paraben-free, it uses peppermint, tea tree oil, eucalyptus to cool and deodorize stinky feet.

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