Foot odour prevention myths


Most of our healthcare routines and beauty regimes are governed by old wives’ tales and complete myths, instead of hard science. You may heard such statements as, “Lip balm dries your lips!” or “plucking grey hair will cause more to grow on the same spot.” These myths and unhelpful advice sound convincing enough to be believed. Just like with other things, there are several myths about good foot care as well. Let’s take a look at some of these myths associated with feet and foot care, and separate the facts from the fiction!

Myth 1: Sweat causes smelly feet.

Many people think that dried sweat or over-sweating is the cause of foot odour. This is not completely wrong, since the foot has the most sweat glands of any part of the body, and sweat may contribute to the problem. However, the odour is caused by the presence of bacteria on the skin. When this bacteria mixes with sweat it acts as a medium to transfer the smell. Wearing socks that allow your feet to breathe, usually made from natural fabrics, can help sweat evaporate faster, taking the smelly bacteria with it. Or you can simply air your feet several times a day to let the sweat dry out.

Myth 2: Men’s feet smell worse than women’s.

This myth probably comes from the stereotypical image of the sports locker room. But do remember that there is no scientific basis to this perception. There is simply no reason why men’s feet might smell worse than women’s. In fact, women actually have more sweat glands than men, so the potential to sweat is higher in women. But men probably get the bad press because they are more active and are seen to sweat more.

Myth 3: Baby powder stops sweaty feet.

Baby powder is usually a fragrance mixed with talcum powder. It is a very fine powder made from magnesium silicate. This has the dual effect of soaking up a limited amount of moisture as well as temporarily constricting the outer body tissue, making skin feel soft and dry. But they are made for use on baby skin, so they are extremely mild. Some powders can help absorb sweat, but this does not stop the accumulation of the bacteria which leads to the odour in the sweat.  

Myth 4: Mouthwash or other home remedies can help foot odour.

Some people believe that the chemicals within certain household or bathroom products such as mouthwash or eucalyptus oil can ‘kill’ the odours in their smelly feet. What they don’t know is that unlike products which are specifically designed for feet, these household remedies can actually damage the skin on their feet or create more problems for themselves by using unapproved products.