Two places in your body harbour bacteria like nowhere else. One is the inside of your mouth and the other is your feet!
Depending on how moist your feet are will affect how many organisms live there. Typical numbers can go as high as one million per square centimetre, but a lot depends on your own hygiene. Men are typically worse at looking after their feet than women and spend less time treating and looking after their feet.
Walking bare-footed is becoming increasingly more common and the dangers of this is that feet pick up all sorts of bacteria and other nasty organisms dwelling on the ground.
No antibacterial agent can reduce the number of bacteria to zero (This is why adverts state that they kill 99% of bacteria) and so foot-health is of the utmost importance, especially when we find that many bacteria are quite resilient and will withstand even alcohol solutions that can kill your own bodily cells – while hard skin, cuts, cracks and sores on your feet are exceedingly difficult places to keep clean.
Why do feet smell?
Odour is a process of the human body where we eat food that contains salts and minerals that are eventually excreted out under our arm-pits and on the soles of our feet. Bacteria love warm moist areas and especially when people are walking barefoot and then put on shoes without first washing the feet. Moisture is trapped in the shoe and can’t then evaporate easily so we have a perfect breeding ground, with the soles of your feet being the place where we sweat most.
Bacteria are actually everywhere. They are in the air and on everything that we touch. We have both good and bad bacteria that cover every bit of your skin and are inside your pores and sweat glands of which there are about 250,000 on your feet that are activated as the temperature rises.
In this recent hot spell, you can imagine that these glands have been very active. Foot sweat is odourless (as is the sweat under your armpits) however when it comes in contact with the bad bacteria on your skin – that’s where the trouble starts – and the stink. Sadly it is a fact that the more that you sweat, the more that you will smell. Bacteria love darkness, humidity and lack of oxygen and in hot sweaty socks and shoes; this is exactly what they find.
For best foot hygiene we would suggest the following:
- Wash your feet thoroughly and especially before you go to bed at night. If you don’t wash your feet in this hot weather, the sweat and the foul smelling bacteria are absorbed back inside you.
- Use a good quality antibacterial soap.
- Clean between your toes, neglected areas are where bacteria has the best chance of living.
- Use an abrasive to get rid of hard skin on your heels, sides of your toes etc. My wife Sheila has a plastic shell product, the size of half a small avocado that has a miniature cheese grater built into it. I understand that it is known as a ‘Ped-Egg’ and while I am sure that Sheila won’t be too happy to know that I often use it after showering, it does help to keep my feet in pristine condition. However the reason for abrasing the skin in this way is that bacteria love living under hard, dead skin. So try to get rid of it.
- Drying the feet especially between the toes is a task that people often fail to do. By drying this area, we reduce the dampness to the area that can start bacterial growth again.
- Wear clean socks every day – with pure cotton being best. Don’t underestimate the importance of this simple fact.
- Processing protein from meat after you eat it produces a large quantity of waste that has to be excreted in sweat, so if you are a big meat eater and have sweaty feet, then think of changing your diet. You will be surprised at the result.
- Drinking more water thins down the sweat and by doing so your body excretes the waste in other ways, so we would suggest that if you have stinky feet that you try to drink more water.
- An old friend who worked as an engineer for the famous shipping line Andrew Weir, out of Glasgow, told a story once of an old-fashioned remedy that helped him while he sailed on his cargo-boats in hot parts of the world – and this was to dust some Allspice into his clean socks in the morning as a sort of talc. From what he told us, it did seem that it had anti-perspirant qualities by absorbing some of the moisture and perhaps (we would have to check this clinically) kill some of the bacteria. Allspice in powder form is sold in every supermarket. It may be worth a try. This is not as some may think a mix of spices, but actually the traditional dried fruit from the plant Pimenta diocia. A bit like large peppercorns that are themselves ground to a powder.
By taking at least some of this advice, changing your habits and thinking about your general health, it may be that you will see that your foot health is so much better and your feet – smell-free. In doing so you may find that horrible things such as Athlete’s Foot and other fungal infections become a thing of the past.
Last but not least. Every time I wash my feet I check for hard skin. If I have some, I remove it. Then I massage some of our lovely Moss-Grove Foot Repair lotion into and around all of my feet, including between my toes.
Knowing that it contains a blend of plant-based therapeutic essential oils and that these oils have the ability to kill bad bacteria, but that they won’t affect me in any way, I am happy. Pampered as they are my feet feel great, I feel great and in the knowledge that I am more or less bacteria free, I almost dance down the streets. I hope that you find this little article on caring for your own feet thought provoking and of benefit.