Stomp Out Foot Odor

It's time to clear the air about an embarrassing problem that affects many exercisers: foot odor.

Michael Ramsey, M.D., a dermatologist at the Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania, offers the following advice to patients who dread slipping off their shoes in the locker room.

  • Wash your feet with an antibacterial soap. Perspiration alone does not cause foul-smelling feet; perspiration and bacteria do. Dry the skin well. Consider using a hair dryer on a cool setting.
  • After drying your feet, and even before a workout, spray an underarm antiperspirant containing aluminum chlorhydrate or aluminum chloride on your feet.
  • Soak your feet in tea bags to reduce sweating. Brew two black tea bags in 1 pint of boiled water for 15 minutes. Add 2 quarts of cool water and soak your feet for 20 to 30 minutes. After 7 to 10 days, Dr. Ramsey says the tannic acid in the tea may work to decrease odor.
  • Wear absorbent cotton socks and change them often.
  • Wear shoes that "breathe," and alternate exercise shoes to allow each pair at least 24 hours to air out between workouts.
  • Check with your doctor about stronger measures. He or she may recommend using an over-the-counter or even prescription drug to cure the foot odor.
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