10 tips against sweaty feet

Foot odor is a common problem.What to do? From foot powder to deodorant: we tell you what really helps

Whoever wears open-toe shoes in summer has less foot odor

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At the evening invitation, the host asks that you take off your shoes at the entrance: Such a situation can be uncomfortable for many. This is due to the bad-smelling foot sweat. Especially in the hot summer months, "stinky feet" or "cheese feet" are not uncommon. When it's hot, your feet sweat even faster in the shoes than usual.

Why do we actually sweat?

Sweating is a vital function in itself; the evaporation of sweat removes heat from the skin and lets it cool down. "So sweating is a way of perceiving the body's thermoregulation," explains Dr. Marion Moers-Carpi, dermatologist in Munich. This is how the body protects itself from overheating. However, when people sweat more than is necessary for thermoregulation, one speaks of excessive sweat production (hyperhidrosis).

Dermatologist Dr. Marion Moers-Carpi

© W & B / private

What is to blame for foot odor?

Sweat itself does not smell and consists mainly of water. In addition, according to the expert: "When we sweat, we mainly excrete table salt. The unpleasant smell only arises when bacteria on the skin join the sweat." The bacteria break down sweat and produce, among other things, butyric acid - this smells penetrating and pungent. Closed shoes prevent sweat from evaporating and create a real sweat chamber. Ideal conditions for foot odor.

Choosing the right footwear is a first step in preventing sweaty feet. But there are many more tricks - our 10 summer tips against foot odor:

10 summer tips against sweaty feet

© iStock / MR Eckhart


© iStock / MR Eckhart

"Open shoes are ideal for the summer because the skin has room to breathe," advises dermatologist Dr. Marion Moers-Carpi. The sweat can evaporate directly and does not collect in the shoe. And where there is less sweat, there is also less foot odor ...

© F1online / AGE

Those who prefer closed shoes should wear shoes made of breathable material such as leather. "Stay away from plastic shoes!" Warns Dr. Marion Moers-Carpi, "because they can't absorb sweat. The feet are literally penned in plastic shoes".

© Your Photo Today / Superbild Bildagentur GbR / Phanie Garo

It also helps to disinfect the shoes, because it gives the bacteria little chance to survive in the shoes. "It's best to spray your shoes well with disinfectant once a week," recommends Moers-Carpi.

© Mauritius / Oredia

Little tricks can also reduce foot odor with socks. "You shouldn't wear synthetic socks because, like plastic shoes, they don't absorb sweat," explains the expert. Thin cotton socks are therefore more suitable.

© F1online / MEV

Thin insoles should also help against sweaty feet. Dermatologist Marion Moers-Carpi recommends leather soles because "they breathe and so absorb sweat". If necessary, the soles should be changed regularly - the "nose test" tells you when it is time.

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A morning foot bath also helps to freshen up your feet. Expert tip: Dry your feet well and blow dry them so that the toes and spaces between them are completely dry. Fragrant additives such as sage trump the foot odor and ensure a fresh feeling.

© Your Photo Today / Superbild Bildagentur GbR / BSIP

A lotion with aluminum chloride * contracts the sweat ducts and the sweat glands cannot release the sweat. The advantage: lotions are quickly absorbed by the skin. "An ointment seals the skin and you sweat even more," says the expert.

© Your Photo Today / Superbild Bildagentur GbR / Phanie Garo

Deodorant sprays for the feet: There are foot deodorants with aluminum chloride * that specifically reduce sweat production. The alternative to avoid aluminum: foot deodorants with alcohol, which attacks bacteria. This in turn reduces the decomposition of sweat.

© Getty Images / Universal Images Group

Foot powder is a good way to dry out the "sweat chamber" in the shoes, as the powder soaks up the beads of sweat. "Simply put the powder directly on the soles of your feet and in the spaces between them so that it works on the spot," advises Moers-Carpi.

© Jupiter Images GmbH / Comstock Images

If nothing helps, go to the doctor. The dermatologist can determine whether excessive sweat production (hyperhidrosis) is the cause of the foot odor. "In extreme cases, hyperhidrosis can be treated with botox, for example," explains Moers-Carpi.


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* Note: We take in aluminum from numerous sources, such as food. Aluminum can also get into the body from aluminum-containing cosmetics, especially if the skin is damaged. Experts from the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) recommend that you keep an eye on the total amount of aluminum consumed as a precaution. In very high doses, aluminum can damage nerves. The BfR has made further information available for download.