You can mask it with the smell of Christmas trees, mulled wine and mince pies, but chances are if you’ve hauled your thickest socks and biggest boots out for winter, your nose is going to know about it.
Yes, by this point in the winter, your feet might be a bit pongy. But what causes smelly feet during the cold months and what can you do about it?
What causes stinky feet in the winter?
Although heat is a sweat trigger, so too is the cold – or indeed any temperature change, such as walking from a toasty office into the cold outside.
But sweat isn’t such a bad thing.
“Sweating from the soles of the feet is quite natural,” says Michael Ratcliffe, Carnation Footcare podiatrist.
“The feet contain more sweat glands than any other part of the body, even your armpits. Sweating keeps the skin supple and helps stop it from drying out and cracking. If the sweat accumulates on your skin then bacteria can build up causing smelly feet, medically known as bromodosis.”
Generally, wearing the same shoes every day is the most common cause of smelly feet. In the winter, insulated shoes and boots may not allow your feet to breathe, which in turn cause bacteria to breed.
As well as this, tight socks and shoes can cause friction, as can dry skin, both of which can help bacteria breed, resulting in smelly feet.
What can you do?
1. Take off your shoes as soon as you get home so they have time to air and your feet don’t overheat.
2. “Keep track of how many miles you have put on your shoes, and replace them every 300 to 600 miles,” says Michael. “If you are wearing very light weight shoes, are overweight, or you are hard on your shoes, stay toward the low end on mileage. To extend the life of your shoes be sure to only wear them only for your walks. Also, rotating two pair of shoes will give them time to bounce back between walks”
3. “Natural oils tend to be much gentler on the skin which is why so many people favour organic skincare,” says skincare expert Sonja Dymalovski, at What Skin Needs.
“Plantolin is easily absorbed into the skin, which is wonderful for people who might have problems with dry skin.”
4. Wash your feet thoroughly after exercise and if you do it regularly, consider buying socks that have been designed to limit bacteria growth.