Kids have some interesting smells. Your little one might have not hit that very special age where hair and stenches seem to appear from nowhere, but they'll probably still manage to tickle your nose from day one. So what actually makes kid's feet stink? We'll explore some causes and solutions to one of the most persistent and pervasive smells out there... Foot odor!
Some of the solutions are extremely simple, but there are certain types of foot odor that it simply doesn't seem possible to get rid of. We will go over these too, because knowing the cause can make finding a solution that much easier. Your kid's feet don't have to stink. None of their various parts have to stink! We've done an article on foul child odors from head to toe, but today we're focusing on the feet!
What Causes Kids Feet To Stink?
The main cause of foot odor for almost everyone from wee children to the eldest person is bacteria. Bacteria love warm and damp spaces, and the spaces in between toes or the lining of a shoe are the perfect place for them to multiply. They don't mean any harm, but there can certainly be too much of a good thing. These bacteria do their best to clean your feet by eating away dead skin cells and oils, but they end up excreting these byproducts as organic acids. In cumulative quantities, these acids can really start to smell.
It's impossible to stop these bacteria from generating some amount of organic acids, but that doesn't mean your kid's feet are doomed to stink forever. If you can't eliminate the acids themselves, then you simply need to get rid of the extra bacteria that are creating those smelly acids. I say 'extra' bacteria because it is important to have some amount of bacteria to maintain your feet. Even if that weren't the case, it'd be almost impossible to rid your feet of bacteria anyways.
Fungus Among Us
One other cause of stinky feet might be foot fungus. It's not a sexy thing to talk about, but it is a part of life. There is only one thing that fungus understands, and that is chemical warfare. You will need to obtain some sort of spray, powder, or ointment to push back on a fungal stink. Luckily, many functional choices are readily available over the counter. I've never had to go to the doctor to get help with foot fungus. Thank God for that. Can you imagine that being in your medical record forever?? I'd much rather just put it all behind me and rid myself of the paper trail by burning the receipt.
Are Some Kids Feet Smellier Than Others?
The truth is, around 10%-15% of all people will have a much harder time with foot odor than the rest of the population. Their feet are more prone to sweating, and for some reason they are able to host a bacteria known as Kyetococcus sedentarius. While organic acids certainly have an unpleasant smell, the Kyetococcus produces volatile sulfur compounds that can absolutely knock you off your feet. Have you ever smelled an egg that was far past due? Well, rotten eggs are full of sulfur and the smell of feet hosting Kyetococcus sedentarius is extremely similar. It's an unfortunate hand to be dealt, but the following tips can absolutely assist even the most overpowering sulfur-smelling feet.
Getting Rid of Bacteria
There is a wide variety of methods that you can employ to easily cut the bacteria on those feet back down to size and prevent your kid's feet from stinking. We'll run through some of the simpler methods, and the list will pick up the assault on these stinky microorganisms as we work our way down this list. So start with the easiest to implement and if that doesn't have the desired effect then you can move down the list. You can find something that works on this list! I guarantee it.
Get Some Air
Do you recall that I said bacteria prefer a damp and warm environment? Well, one of the best and easiest ways to remove that environment is to pop your shoes off and let them (and your feet) get some air. It will certainly feel good for you! I know there's not much I enjoy more than kicking my shoes off after a long day. Ensure that you swap your shoes out from time to time as well. You'll like it, bacteria will hate it. That's what I call a win/win! Well, unless you're a bacteria...
Loosen Those Shoes
Tight shoes can be a huge contributor to increased sweat. Some materials can also increase sweat, you want your shoe to be loose enough to allow a bit of airflow paired with a material that is breathable. I recall at one point in my childhood I bought the coolest Ninja Turtle shoes. Unfortunately, they were a plastic-nylon that ended up turning my feet into a disaster area. My mom stealthily threw them away. At the time I was heartbroken, but now that I'm a parent? I understand perfectly.
The number of products out there to assist with stinky kid feet is nearly endless. Always having fresh breathable cotton socks on hand is a good start. Silly Feet can provide a bubble gum scented shoe deodorizer powder or grape scented foot spray that will definitely please both you and your child! A new pair of insoles, particularly if they are washable can go a long way in the war on bacteria. You can also resort to disinfectant sprays that can kill many microorganisms outright.