My feet stink!
October 29, 2008 6:04 PM   Subscribe

My feet stink, all of a sudden, and I can't figure out why!

About 6 months ago, all of a sudden, my feet started to smell very strongly for the first time in my life. Before this, I had never had foot odor of any kind before, even when I exercised and got sweaty. Now, even when I'm not sweaty, my feet smell terrible. I'm not any sweatier than usual, just smellier, and only my feet smell different. The smell is very strong, and it smells terrible.

They even smell right after I get out of the shower. Not as strongly, but I can smell that foot odor smell, and it gets stronger throughout the day. My socks smell terrible at the end of the day. When I take my shoes off at the end of the day, you can smell my socks from across the room. Even if I wear sandals or go barefoot, my feet smell bad. All of my shoes now smell bad permanently.

Oddly, my roommate developed foot odor around the same time, but she thinks hers is because she started taking a new medication that has sweating and body odor as side effects. I bring it up only because it's a weird coincidence, but I can't imagine how it could be related. I have not made any changes to diet or medication. I'm totally healthy (female, late 20s, exercise regularly, eat lots of veggies and very little meat, etc.). Why is this happening to me all of a sudden?

I've read all of the questions about how to deal with foot odor generally, and I've been doing some of those things, but nothing seems to work. I'm particularly frustrated that my feet even smell when clean, so I can't even wash it away temporarily.

Can anyone explain why this is happening to me and what I can do to reverse it? What would make a person's feet start to smell all of a sudden? How can I make it go away? Are there medications I can take, or vitamins or herbs, or special soaps, or magic spells? At this point, I'd try almost anything.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I bring it up only because it's a weird coincidence, but I can't imagine how it could be related.

You both have a foot fungus, like athlete's foot. One of you caught it from the other (do you use the same shower?), who got it somewhere else.
posted by amro at 6:16 PM on October 29, 2008

Info on foot fungus.

See a doctor, of course.
posted by amro at 6:17 PM on October 29, 2008

yeah, if you both walk barefoot in your house, then you have shared a foot fungus. go see a doctor.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:25 PM on October 29, 2008

Oddly, my roommate developed foot odor around the same time, but she thinks hers is because she started taking a new medication that has sweating and body odor as side effects.

The medication may be the prime mover, but a proximal cause is probably some kind of organism (I'd guess a bacterium) that you caught from her.

I would try topical antibacterials and antibiotics, followed by re-inoculation with better smelling organisms by wearing very dirty socks of someone with normal foot odor (preferably a family member, for compatibility). Maybe you could even cajole them into wearing the socks for a week or so to get them really ripe.

Unfortunately you are likely to need all new shoes to avoid being re-infected if that works, your room-mate will need to be cured at the same time, and if you can perform these feats, then you will have to clean your floors very thoroughly, with special attention to your bathroom and the shower stall.
posted by jamjam at 6:27 PM on October 29, 2008

I know everyone is jumping on the foot fungus wagon (woo!), but the same thing happened to me and my roommate for a different reason not too long ago. After trying anti-fungal creams to no avail, we realized it was the carpet causing the problem. After ditching the carpet (I assume a good cleaning would have done the same), the problem went away for both of us. The carpet really didn't smell that bad unless you got up close; I think it was just the fact that we were both coming in with dirty, sweaty feet, starting a breeding ground for bacteria. Good luck!
posted by karyotypical at 7:41 PM on October 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

This is anecdotal, and I don't know how practical this is, but if at all possible, take a hot sulphur bath. A few years ago I had a horrendous case of athlete's foot that would not go away no matter what I did. Living in Japan, there are any number of hot springs resorts--it's a national pastime here. Anyway, by pure chance my wife and I ended up at a resort with a sulfur bath. The water was lime green and stinky as hell, but sulfur is great for your skin. And it destroys foot fungi. A few days after that bath, I noticed that my athlete's foot was gone, and I've never had it that bad since.

The resort sold little blocks of sulfur bath salts, so you might find those at a local bath/beauty shop. Again, this is just my experience; I don't know if this holds up to scientific scrutiny.
posted by zardoz at 8:19 PM on October 29, 2008

Cedar wood oil applied to your soles can help with the smell and is mildly anti fungal.
posted by hortense at 8:36 PM on October 29, 2008

I was going to ask if somebody had borrowed your shoes? But I guess there's your answer. It doesn't have to be fungus, it could just be bacteria.
Bleach, wash, disinfect everything that feet have touched or if you want to be thorough -have then been in contact with. Say, in with socks or bathmats in the washing machine?? From the day she started her medication onwards. Those scissors you used to trim your toenails before you noticed the stink and tossed in the draw? Laying on your bed with your feet on the wall that day? Give that spot a quick wipe too... just in case.

Sunshine, isopropyl, tea tree oil, vanilla essence (might be the alcohol in it??), bi-carb (don't know if it kills stink, but is good for absorbing it) canesten laundry rinse (smells good too!) and sapoderm soap. Get some thongs, wear them in the shower too. Your roommate is probably stuck with the stink for now though...

This will happen when other people use your roll on deodorant too (UGH!! Who would do that!!) and no I don't want to talk about how I know that.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 10:01 PM on October 29, 2008

I think if it were actual athlete's foot you'd notice the soreness and flaking skin before it got smelly. But maybe something along those lines.

You could try spraying on 3% food grade peroxide.
posted by Phanx at 6:15 AM on October 30, 2008

If it's not fungal, I'd suggest using Khepra foot balm every single day after your shower. It has a great mix of antibacterial oils and beeswax (also antibacterial). I was having some issues last summer after my sandals got something and this totally wiped out the smells, permanently. It's the only thing I've found that works.
posted by tejolote at 9:53 AM on October 30, 2008

i have a stick of deodorant that i keep specifically for my feet. when my feet are getting stinkier than usual (often happens at times when my feet are sweating more), i'll slather some of that on in the morning before putting on clean socks. i use a deoderant with aloe in it, so it also keeps the skin of my feet happier, too
posted by rmd1023 at 10:26 AM on October 30, 2008

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