Summer means your dogs are gonna sweat. And by dogs we mean your feet, which are hot and now slightly swollen and squished into your shoes.
And when you take them out? Whew, you could clear the room because they've been harboring a nasty secret: a lot of odor.
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You're not alone, either. A past survey from the Institute for Preventative Foot Health found that about 36 million adults in the U.S. admit to having putrid foot perfume.
One solution? Regular black tea foot soaks. It's a cheap, easy and quick DIY option to correct feet that reek.
"The tannic acid in black tea helps to treat sweaty feet, the cause of odor," New York City-based Jackie Sutera, DPM, podiatrist and Vionic Innovation Lab Member, tells LIVESTRONG.com. A tea soak "temporarily shrinks or closes sweat ducts and pores. It also kills surface bacteria, which ferments and stinks," she says.
Consider the soak one home remedy for sweaty feet that works to correct foot odor and keep feet stink-free.
"This is definitely something that people with sweaty and smelly feet should try as a treatment, especially during warmer weather," Dr. Sutera says.
If you're prone to smelly feet, don't wait until they turn a corner and become unbearably smelly before you take action. "Start doing this before the problem arises," she adds.
How to Make a Black Tea Soak for Your Feet
Follow these directions from Dr. Sutera for the perfect post-sandal foot soak:
- Brew two black tea bags in one quart of water. It can be any brand of black tea, but make sure you're using plain black tea (rather than, say, a fruity or chai flavor).
- Let the water cool. Make sure to test the water before dunking your feet in, to make sure it's not too hot.
- Transfer to a basin big enough to stick your feet into.
- Soak your feet for 10 minutes. Just call this your self-care time. Read some pages in a book, scroll social media or start a new episode of whatever crazy show you're into these days.
Discard the foot tea. Then, repeat the process every night for a week.
"If symptoms return, repeat the tea soak for your feet again for another few days," Dr. Sutera says.
To maintain foot freshness, plan to do a black tea foot soak once per week, she suggests.
Other Sources of Foot Odor
Sweat might be a common odor culprit during summer, but it's not the only one, Dr. Sutera says. Tea soaks for days won't be able to treat foot conditions or correct hygiene or habits that make it more likely your feet will stink.
According to Dr. Sutera, other sources of foot odor include:
- Fungal infections: These infections can affect the toenails or skin on the foot, such as athlete's foot.
- Forgetting to dry in between your toes: Don't let your toes stay wet after a shower.
- Not washing your feet daily: Scrub 'em up during every shower. (Letting shampoo run down from your head onto your feet doesn't count, Dr. Sutera says.)
- Wearing sweaty socks: Change into a fresh pair often, especially if you often have odor problems.
- Sporting smelly shoes: Wearing the same shoes all day, every day, wearing old shoes or sharing shoes can build smell. If your shoes are the problem or you have had a foot or toenail fungal infection, your pairs need additional treatment. Use an anti-fungal shoe spray or UV shoe light inserts. "These kill the organisms that may festor," Dr. Sutera says.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.