BY DR. DAVE HEPBURN | JANUARY 11, 2012
Flood sweat and tears
The sights, sounds, smells, touches and tastes that a doctor has to endure are not exactly a weekend in the spa (OK, perhaps some of the sights). The smells alone can be bad enough to cover all the senses when you can virtually taste them, see them, touch them and on occasion... hear them. And sister... do they hum.
I surveyed a few doctors, asking which smells are the worst. Answers included: anaerobic abscesses, prostate checks, gingivitis, feet, hospital cafeteria, teenage socks, burnt skin, amniotic fluid, sebaceous cysts of Sealey, Strep throat, vomit, Trichomonas, stale urine, peri-rectal abscesses, etc.
Being grateful for small victories, I would like to see what I can do for mankind by attempting to reduce the evils associated with malodorous feet, the pulsating paws of putridness, the festering feet of fetor. Though this column is ostensibly to help you with your problem, it also helps us with your problem.
Foot odor is caused from a flood of sweat and then....tears.
Sweat itself is odorless, but after bacteria have spent some time basking in it, sweat can make Limburger smell like lavender. And here’s the remarkable fact de jour that should impress the in-laws at dinner tonight. The primary bacterial occupant of your foot, a beast called Brevibacteria of which you harbor millions and billions and some of you trillions, is the same bacteria used to make Limburger cheese! I kid you not. OK, I do kid on occasion but this one is true.
You can make Limburger cheeseburgers between your toeburgers. In fact, malarial mosquitoes are attracted equally to the smell of limburger cheese as to the smell of human feet. Funded by Bill Gates’ foundation, a mosquito trap is actually being developed using smelly socks.
Cruelly, the feet have more sweat glands than anywhere else in the body except the armpits. Most of us sweat about a PINT PER FOOT per day! I kid you not. OK, I do kid on occasion but this one is also true. That much sweat is a smorgasbord for Brevi and pals.
They gorge like crazy and then end up having to pay a visit to the little bacteria bathroom also known as your sock. They rarely turn on the fan or light a match so when your shoes come off, in lieu of lilacs and lilies, you are now in the loo of a Limburger litterbox. Sweat, bacteria, poorly ventilated socks and shoes...a perfect storm of putridity that could knock a plumber’s skunk off a roto rooter. (I’m not sure if that actually means anything but it just sounds nasty.) So to defeet the olfactory disaster of excessively smelly feet, known in the medical world as bromhidrosis, either reduce the bacteria or reduce the sweat. Here are a few tricks.
1. Avoid polyester or nylon socks. Go with cotton or wool that will ventilate (and absorb) better, leaving you to sweat only small stuff.
2. Rotate your shoes every day and avoid boots. Those boots were made for rocking your nostrils and that’s just what they’ll do.
3. Wash your feet with an antibacterial soap or use a powder with menthol, tea tree, Charlie Sheen etc.
4. Bacteria dislike baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), so sprinkle a couple of pinches of that in the sock and a couple on the insole of the shoe, stir gently and let simmer.
5. Apply an armpit antiperspirant to your feet, one without aluminum chloride. Treat ‘em like pits... until they smell like cherries.
6. Try absorbent shoe inserts with activated charcoal and/or sodium bicarbonate.
7. Never wear shoes without socks or your shoes will soon walk a mile on their own.
8. Some natural ideas that tend to work include soaking your feet in tea tree, green tea or strong black tea for the tannic acid which can kill bacteria and, as an astringent, close up pores. While soaking you could enjoy a little tea yourself, should you have a long enough straw.
9. Swab your feet with isopropyl alcohol a couple of times during the day. Keep away from your lips or you’ll be swabbing the deck.
10. A somewhat odd yet highly effective trick to eradicate foot sweat and bacteria is to take three cups of Cheerios cereal, add 1/2 can of Diet Coke, two tablespoons of real cranberry juice (or acai berries), half a shredded pepperoni stick and a quarter cup of chocolate covered peanuts. Add ice and mix in a blender. Drink this in the morning and the sweat and smell in your feet will completely stop within a half hour and stay dry all day. I kid you not! (OK...............I kid.)