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Smelly Feet Can Be Remedied

Posting Date: 06/14/2004

Q. My son has really smelly feet. He can't take off his shoes when we're in the car or the house, or he stinks us all out. His feet must be covered. (Fresh socks, a blanket or a hazmat response suit all work equally well.)

Even though he's a teenager, he bathes every day so this is not due to bad hygiene. No one else in the family suffers from this ailment. (We suffer enough just from his.) He wears a variety of shoes, but they all smell bad. The ones that he wears more often just smell worse.

We?ve heard of home remedies that involve soaking in a weak tea or boric acid solution. We have not tried either of these. It is tempting to consider something strong like boric acid. Could you recommend a more measured response to this problem?

A. First, throw out the nastiest smelling shoes. Once they have fungus or bacteria, it can be hard to decontaminate them. Nonetheless, one reader recommends soaking paper towels in rubbing alcohol and placing them in the shoes overnight.

Strong tea soaks (30 minutes daily) can be helpful, if he is patient enough. Five tea bags steeped in a quart of boiling water for 10 minutes and allowed to cool can be used for this foot bath. Skip the boric acid because it is too toxic, especially if he has athlete?s foot.

Other foot soaks include baking soda or Epsom salts. We are sending you our Guides to Home Remedies and Solutions for Smelly Feet with additional information on this vexing problem. Anyone who would like copies, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. RF-2, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

Applying antiperspirant to feet can significantly reduce the sweating that stimulates the growth of aroma-producing organisms.

Q. Is there a nutritional 'cure' for longitudinal ridges in fingernails? They seem to be getting more pronounced. My nails are brittle and frequently split. I wonder if I need some type of supplement.