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When Cute Feet Go Bad…Tackling Foot Odor

When Cute Feet Go Bad…Tackling Foot Odor

It’s Summertime.  The sun is shining, ice cream and watermelon abound, and…Oh my!!! What is that smell? You look to the back of the minivan in horror, wondering what sort of animal has met its demise.  Could it be?  Could that rancid odor be coming from the feet of my pig-tailed beauty?  How is that possible?!

That scenario, shocking as it seems, is actually quite common.  Yes, children’s foot odor is one of the better kept secrets of parenthood.  Children’s feet tend to sweat much more than those of adults, making it a good environment for bacteria to grow. The bacterial culprit is kyetococcus sedentarius (be sure to remember to answer in the form of a question if asked on Jeopardy).  These bacteria live on the oils and dead skin cells of feet and produce sulfur-like byproducts, hence the powerful odors.

The good news is there are things you can do to help.

Handy (footy) Tips:

  • Washing – Now, this isn’t to say that your child’s feet smell because they are dirty, but showering daily and having your feet be in soapy water may not be enough to remove the skin cells and bacteria causing the problem. Specialized soaks and exfoliating foot scrubs will do a better job of removing bacteria (there is no evidence showing that anti-bacterial soaps are effective).
  • Avoid using lotions on feet that can clog pores and increase sweating. Try to use powders for any conditions needing treatment.
  • Try to avoid plastic and rubber footwear that could cause feet to perspire more. More breathable fabrics are preferred (leather, canvas, modern mesh). Cotton or moisture wicking socks are helpful too.
  • It can be helpful to have a few pairs of footwear, allowing you to switch daily, and give sneaker a chance to dry and air out.
  • Sock changes after exercise or whenever wet.
  • Finally, some footwear has removable shoe inserts that can be washed separately.
  • If all else fails, send them to grandma and grandpa’s for the summer!!

Foot odor in your children can be frustrating and even embarrassing, but don’t be discouraged. With some preventative measures, and detailed cleanings, your children’s feet will be the envy of the carpool!