Help! My Feet Smell!

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Ever have that moment when you pick up a pair of shoes (or slip your feet out of some) and realize that there’s—how do we put this?—a bit of a funk emanating from them? We’ve all been there. But before you hide your feet in shame, consider these tips from Dr. Miguel Cunha, a podiatrist and founder of Gotham Footcare.

Learn what causes the smell in the first place. "Foot odor is primarily caused by a lack of ventilation in your shoe because the perspiration has nowhere to evaporate," says Dr. Cunha. Though sweat itself doesn’t actually smell, the odor comes from “normal skin bacteria breaking down the sweat in our feet and producing isovaleric acid, which causes the odor.”

OK, so what can I do about it? To start, Dr. Cunha recommends washing your feet with antibacterial soap once a day and making sure to dry them thoroughly afterward—especially between your toes. (Psst. You can speed things up using a blow-dryer.)

Some other good practices to keep in mind: Rotate your shoes daily so they have at least 24 hours to dry out, spray an antiperspirant onto your feet at the beginning of the day, keep your toenails trimmed and clean and regularly remove any callused skin with a foot file. Also, avoid wearing shoes made with plastic. Leather or canvas is better for ventilation. And with that, let’s go buy some shoes now, shall we?

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Jenny Jin

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...
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