Have you ever been in a high school or college men’s locker room?
Then you have definitely been blasted in the face with the undeniable smell of stinky athletes.
Body odor and stinky feet in particular are a common problem among athletes.
Ladies are even included here: although for the sake of politeness I’ll pretend my nose hairs aren’t on fire when you take off your shoes.
Social politeness aside you probably want to know: “Why do my feet smell so bad?”
1 & 2. Poor Hygiene & Bacteria
Poor hygiene is less of a cause of stink as it is providing the right environment for stink to take hold.
The name of the game here is sweat control.
When you allow sweat to build up over a time, you’ve created the perfect environment for bacteria to grow.
There’s a normal amount of bacteria on your body that breaks down sweat when you work out.
However, if you leave pools of sweat around (on workout clothes you haven’t washed, or football pads in the guy’s case) then you’ve created a breeding ground for bacteria.
When the bacteria break down the sweat one of the by-products is that funky smell you wish would go away.
So good hygiene comes into play in both getting excess sweat off your skin and your clothes to prevent the stink.
Common examples of less than optimal hygiene include
- Wearing the same shoes every day without letting them dry
- Wearing workout clothes multiple times without washing
- Working out then not showering afterwards
The unfortunate reality is that some people sweat in excess. I mean a lot.
If you know anyone who constantly seems to have sweaty armpits in their dress shirts at work; they might just suffer from hyperhidrosis.
First let me say, please try and empathize with your sweaty co-worker. They wish they could not sweat so much even more than your temporary moment of awkwardness in seeing how sweaty they are.
They can’t help it.
Combine a condition where excess sweating is already a problem with how much feet normally sweat. Together they make the ripest conditions for a foot funk factory.
The most at risk groups of people for hormone changes resulting in stinky feet are pregnant women and teenagers.
Changes in hormones can lead to an increase in sweat for both of these groups.
You can also have hormone changes from different medical problems or from being overweight.
Hormone changes leading to excess sweating and foot odor is definitely something you should discuss with your doctor if it bothers you.
There’s goods kinds of stress and bad kinds of stress, but I think you and I can agree the bad kind of stress gets even worse when it contributes to you smelling bad.
It isn’t the stress per se that makes your feet smell, but what it causes.
Again we come back to the beginning, the sweat.
Added stress and anxiety in your life can cause excess sweating.
Excess sweat = bacteria breaking sweat down = stinky feet.
Is that why people suggest not to “sweat the small stuff?”
Okay, ignore my mental meanderings.
6. Fungal Infection
The biggest affliction outside of decomposing sweat that causes stinky feet are fungal infections.
Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is a contagious fungus that can be spread to many parts of your skin.
It’s not strictly an affliction for athletes, but because of the common use of locker rooms at gyms it is easy for one person to bring it in and share with everyone else.
This is one case where sharing is not caring.
Although sweat contributes to athlete’s foot hanging around on your skin, it isn’t the cause.
It’s the fungus itself and the by-products of it living on your skin that creates the smell, much like the bacteria breaking down sweat cause an odor.
How to Treat Stinky Feet
Stay tuned for our next article on natural ways to treat your stinky feet.