Often considered to smell like cheese, and with good reason, foot odor is usually agreed upon as an unpleasant smell which affects feet, and is a particular type of body odor.
Often the misery, bane and drama of locker rooms and bedrooms everywhere, it is often a subject of ridicule, with the smell often overpowering a room with its pungent smell. The feet usually feet hot, uncomfortable and sweaty until they are released from the hot, humid and enclosed confinement of their shelter, unhealthily consisting of an overprotection of your feet.
Smells Like Cheese
The smell can also be similar to that of malt vinegar and also ammonia-like in character. The primary cause of this odor is excessive sweating from the feet. Whilst this perspiration itself has no odor of its own, the feet especially create an ideal breeding ground for bacteria to reproduce. Higher numbers of these bacteria result in a greater quantity of bacterial waste product, as they feast on the fatty acids in your sweat, and this leads to the production of compounds which have unpleasant smells. The bacteria which cause this are a part of the normal skin flora.
Brevibacteria are bacteria which are often regarded as the worst offender. They are responsible for the smell of certain cheeses, including Limburger cheese, Port du Salut and Bel Paese. Delicious.
A study by Bart Knols, of the Netherlands, demonstrated that the female mosquito responsible for malaria, called Anopheles gambiae, is equally attracted to Limburger cheese and human feet. These bacteria create a small by living off the dead skin layer on your feet and are responsible for a biochemical process which converts an amino acid called methionine into a compound called methanethiol. This end product has a sulfur-like aroma, and is overpowering and caustic in the nature of its smell.
Dead skin on the feet is rather common, especially so between the toes and the soles of the feet, where it is important to clean especially when taking a shower or bath, to prevent yourself from harvesting these bacteria.
Some helpful advice…
Under the enclosed and humid conditions usually found when wearing socks and shoes for extended periods of time, with an inadequate supply of air, bacteria which reside on the skin surface of the feet can multiply. Hair on the feet increases the surface area which bacteria have to thrive on.
The material used, regarding socks and footwear can have an effect on foot odor. Often the materials used to make socks are not very helpful and contribute to its cause – especially artificial materials such as nylon and polyester. This is because they tend to increase odor via greater perspiration. Cotton and wool are better fabrics for socks as they tend to absorb and wick away moisture. It is advisable to wear socks when wearing shoes because of the layer of protection with moisture absorbing fabric. If this protection isn’t there, feet become exposed to bacteria which thrive on footwear – there are plenty of examples of moist and putrid smelling, dirty trainers and shoes if you look around.
Changing your shoes on a semi-regular basis can help, and it is possible to machine wash many trainers – and the result is very effective at renewing them and making them more pleasant to wear.
Simple Treatments To Banish Foot Odor
There are many treatments for foot odor, including using deodorants designed for this purpose. Often, soldiers in the Russian army would put allspice into their boots, a blend of aromatic herbs formulated to combat foot odor, leaving soldiers free to fight their opposition.
Sodium bicarbonate, also known as bicarb, bicarbonate of soda or cooking soda, can be used. It creates a sub-optimal environment, hostile to these odor inducing bacteria. This can help in getting rid of foot odor from shoes and feet, and it is inexpensive compared to specially marketed odor-destroying powders.
IPA or isopropyl alcohol is another solution and can be purchased at your nearest drugstore. Used for about two weeks, it is also inexpensive and deemed to be highly effective. You can also use shoe insoles which have activated charcoal, brands such as Odor Eaters which wick away moisture whilst neutralizing smells.
Of course the most effective cure of all is maintaining foot hygiene, and aerating your feet. With good care, it is possible to banish foot odor forever.