People aren't always open books when it comes to their foot odor solutions, and I don't necessarily blame them. However, for athletes, sweaty feet and smelly shoes are often just a part of everyday life. It's something they just get used to, and talking about their favorite foot odor remedies comes as easily to them as talking about their favorite jogging route.
These are the types of people that I love, because yeah, sometimes the human body doesn't smell like roses, but it's a miraculous thing anyway. Besides, if you and I can't discuss its less-pleasant functions, where does that leave us as far as fixing them?
Foot odor (otherwise known as bromhidrosis) happens when the bacteria on your feet (that feed off your sweat) leave behind waste products. While most of the time these micro-organisms merely smell bad and pose no real threat, under certain conditions, they can develop into infections and fungal outbreaks like rashes or athlete's foot. It's something that athletic people experience a lot because of the perpetually moist and calloused condition of their feet, but they've also got their own genius remedies to help keep that area clean and dry despite it all. Check out these personal tips that real athletes were willing to share with me, and see if any of them work for you.
1. So Much More Effective Than A Pumice Stone
"In my experience, foot odor can be mitigated by keeping calluses and dead skin at bay," says Candace Bryan, runner. "I obsessively file my feet with a Ped Egg, which is basically a cheese grater for feet — it's much more effective than a pumice stone. I run in Vibrams barefoot shoes, so it's easy for calluses to build up, and that dead skin can smell awful. But by using the Ped Egg, I keep my feet both looking and smelling normal."
2. Sulfur Is A Hidden Ingredient In Most Fungus Medications
Ruurd Jacob, soccer player, says, "I used to have a dangerous kind of fungus. ... [The smell and pain] was horrible." Jacob went to a hospital in Italy for it, where they treated him with a sulfur-based medicine. "Every medicine for that purpose is made with sulfur — the stuff they use for matches." This Sulfo Lo cleansing bar is a sulfur-based soap that helps with all sorts of skin issues, including acne, breakouts, and infections, and it treats affected areas without over-drying.
3. Absorb Odors And Moisture With Baking Soda
Hailey, who does ballet, yoga, soccer, and backpacking, says, "I swear by Arm & Hammer baking soda, hands down. My feet get, uh, rather smelly. If it's really bad, I dump it right into whichever shoes and let them sit for a couple of days before knocking out the baking soda."
Runner Kathryn Walker also agrees that this method is the way to go: "After a long sweaty workout, I (liberally) sprinkle my running shoes in baking soda and leave them outside overnight," Walker says. "The baking soda 'eats' the odor and by placing the shoes outside, I avoid having to smell them in my house."
This pack of three Arm & Hammer pure shakers has the same smell- and moisture-absorbing baking soda, but it comes in a convenient bottle that's easy to travel with and shake directly into your shoes.
4. Try Tea Tree To Fight Fungus And Odor
Football player Edwin G. says that he never would've gotten through the season without a tea tree scrub that his mom got him for his feet. "It got rid of the infection pretty much within a week because of the way it fights fungus, and it helped to remove all the dead skin there, too." This anti-fungal tea tree oil foot scrub uses natural essential oils and dead sea salt to leave feet fresh, healthy, and truly cleansed, so much so that reviewers are saying things like, "Amazing; words can't explain."
5. Store Your Shoes In The Freezer For A Few Hours
Another method from Hailey (this one if you're in need of a quick fix): "If you need something that will last for a few hours and you don't have a few days, throw your shoes in the freezer. I usually throw them in a Ziploc bag, so they don't make the freezer icky." Another great option are these Bagail waterproof shoe tote bags. They come in a pack of four, are lightweight, reusable, and durable, and have a zipper for easy storage in your freezer. They're also available in four different colors and two distinct sizes.
6. This Soap Made From Pine Tar
Keith, a hiker, says that Grandpa's Pine Tar bar soap works especially well on his feet, although he uses it everywhere else, too. "I use it for everything, like washing my hair, beard, my hands, and my butt. I like it because it smells like trees. ... It's pretty close to natural stuff, and is anti-bacterial." This pack of three is made with actual tar from pine trees, and it has strong anti-fungal properties that also helps to soothe skin irritations.
7. These Little Air Fresheners For Your Shoes
Jessica K., who's a trail runner, says that she used to use odor-resistant insoles until they got too inconvenient. "Sof Sole sneaker balls are way easier to use then futzing with getting the insoles in," she says. "They're like little round air fresheners that can get all the way inside your shoe." You can also put them in your gym bag or locker, and they come in tons of cute little designs.
8. Wear The Right Socks For Wicking Moisture
Amanda Laskey, a runner who just ran the NY Marathon in November, says, "For me, to prevent foot odor, I look to buy the best moisture-wicking socks. I'm currently using socks from Feetures (specifically the Elite Light Cushion No Show Tab) which keep my feet dry and odor-free." In addition to wicking moisture, they also provide support, as well as blister-relief.
9. Throw Your Sports Shoes In The Washing Machine
Mike (a golfer, soccer player, and cross country runner) says that throwing his shoes in the washing machine helps to keep them smelling like new after a particularly arduous day. "I recommend using Tide Sport with Febreeze," he says, because it's got an extremely tough high efficiency odor removal technology that fights smells from sweat, and it leaves your shoes looking especially clean, too.
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