Does your nose wrinkle up at the very thought of foot odour? For many, foot odour evokes memories of gym class or big brothers with messy, smelly bedrooms. Lax hygiene and sweat often trigger the stench of stinky feet, and bacteria deserve most of the blame.

Bacteria live by the millions on the surfaces of our feet. Also covering our feet are a quarter of a million sweat glands. It's a potent combination made ripe when we stuff our feet into the darkness and warmth of our shoes - and it gets even worse when we don't wear socks to soak up some of the perspiration.

What makes the bacteria so stinky? The bacteria need to eat, and they make a meal of your skin's oils and dead cells. The process of digesting your skin's waste creates organic acids and sulphur compounds. Yes, that is the same sulphur that gives a rotten egg its pungent scent.

Good thing foot odour can usually be easily neutralized with good foot hygiene and a few preventive steps:

  • Give your feet a daily bath. The trickle-down effect in the shower may not be enough of a washing. You may need to really get down and soap up and scrub your feet. A good daily cleaning can clear away most of the potentially offending bacteria. Be sure to dry your feet well after washing up.
  • Give your shoes a bath, too. Some sneakers and other kinds of shoes can be tossed in the washer. Spray a shoe disinfectant or shake foot powder into your shoes to kill off any hidden bacteria.
  • Let your feet breathe! You should go barefoot for a little while each day to air out your feet. To keep your feet breathable all day, shun shoes that fit too snugly and forgo footwear made from plastic or synthetic materials.
  • Give your shoes the day off. Wear the same pair day after day, and you risk turning your shoes into a bacteria breeding ground. Leave your shoes out every couple of days in an open space or in the sun so they can air out.
  • Be sock-smart. Socks come in all different varieties for a reason. For a workout, opt for cotton or specially fabricated sports knits that absorb sweat while letting your feet breathe. If you want to wear light slip-ons in the spring or summer but know you're prone to foot odour, slide your feet into thin, breathable hosiery-style socks sized to fit ballet flats and other warmer weather footwear. If need be, switch semi-soiled socks out for fresh ones during the day.
  • Slip in stench-proofing soles. You can try putting special insoles into your shoes. These products absorb sweat, and taking the sweat out of the foot odour equation makes a big stinking difference.
  • Roll on relief. Just like you use deodorants to cope with body odour, you can roll a specially formulated foot deodorant or antiperspirant directly on to your feet. These products work in much the same way as their armpit counterparts - by either masking odours or blocking perspiration.

The main thing to remember is to keep your feet cool and dry as often as possible! Consult with your doctor if foot odour does not improve after trying these strategies. Excessive sweating, also known as hyperhidrosis, could be making your problem worse., The sweating may be caused by genetics, certain medications, hormonal imbalances, low blood sugar, certain diseases and conditions, or an unknown source.