Smelly feet are not just a social problem. They may signal health problems

Smelly feet are not just a social problem.  They may signal health problems

Usually, the causes of smelly feet are quite obvious: hygiene, inappropriate shoes or socks, mycosis. But it doesn't have to be this way. A serious systemic disease may be hidden behind an embarrassing odor that knocks people off their feet.

Smelly feet are not just a social problem.  They may signal health problems

There's something stinking on our feet. Approx. 600 sweat glands do their job per cm2. The problem is that fresh sweat from a healthy person is odorless, so there is no reason why taking off your shoes would release a deadly scent weapon.

If it's not hot, you don't wear shoes made of airtight material, or you don't choose synthetic socks, take the issue of foot stink seriously. Washing is not enough.

Why do feet sweat?

Basically, our feet sweat for our own good. This is a natural temperature regulation – the evaporation of water, which is the main component of sweat, lowers body temperature.

Sweat glands are not distributed evenly throughout the body, so different parts of the body sweat differently. Feet are at the forefront, but also armpits, hands, face and forehead.

Intense sweating, especially in the feet, hands and armpits, is not only related to the ambient temperature and the reaction to it. It is also a response to emotional stimuli.

The main mediator that stimulates the glands to secretory activity is acetylcholine. It is considered one of the most important neurotransmitters because it affects many life processes, including heart function, memory processes and the functioning of the digestive tract. A sudden, rapid change in the amount of sweat secreted may be associated with neurological problems.

Smelly feet – this may help

Regardless of the cause, you can most often solve the problem of smelly, sweaty feet using preparations available at pharmacies without a prescription. They are undoubtedly effective, especially those based on aluminum salts, but for some people natural remedies based on tea tree oil, thyme and rosemary are enough.

You can also try to disinfect the shoes themselves using special preparations available on the market (of varying effectiveness) or 70% alcohol (make a spray and leave the shoes to dry in the open air).

Smelly feet – when to see a doctor

Dr. Robert Chmielewski, surgeon and aesthetic medicine specialist, advises that the problem of excessive sweating (not only in the feet), if it is not related to natural causes, such as an unbearable heat wave or poor hygiene habits, ALWAYS consult a doctor:

– You should be aware that diabetes, thyroid and kidney diseases, metabolic disorders and other endocrine problems may be the primary cause of excessive sweating, not only in the feet. Many of these diseases seriously threaten general health and even life, and such a clear warning signal absolutely cannot be ignored.

Dr. Chmielewski recommends not to ignore not only excessive sweating, but also the extremely unpleasant smell of fresh sweat in moderate amounts. It is typical not only for fungal infections, but also for serious systemic diseases.

If excessive sweating is related to emotions (you sweat when you see your boss, before an exam), psychotherapy often turns out to be the most effective treatment. After dealing with fears, the sweat glands often “calm down.”

Sweating feet – long-term solutions

Some patients want the problem to be solved permanently. If you have ruled out systemic diseases and it is “only” excessive sweating, you may consider botulinum toxin therapy.

It is injected into areas that sweat excessively, which blocks neuromuscular connections. As a result, the glands there stop secreting sweat. The treatment takes a few minutes. It doesn't fix the problem forever, but you should be fine for many months.

In the past, in extreme situations, lumbar sympathectomy was proposed (in the case of hands and armpits – thoracic), i.e. surgical disruption of the connection of nerves and sweat glands in the lumbar (or thoracic) spine. However, this method carries too high a risk of complications to be considered as way to deal with stinky feet.