By Aly Walansky
Ugg boots and their sheepskin counterparts have been a winter-weather staple for several years now, combining function, comfort, warmth and even some style. What many Ugg-enthusiasts don’t know is that their coveted boots are a breeding ground for bacteria, can cause foot problems and odor!
Foot Fungus Finding a Way Into Your Winter Boots?
According to Dr. Zong, “fungus breeds in dark, wet environments – conditions that are usually seen inside of trendy sheepskin boots.” Foot fungus produces dry, itchy skin and can turn toenails thick and yellow. Dr. Zong says, “It’s hard to get rid of a fungal infection once it has spread to your nails. For foot fungus there are over the counter treatments, but if you have a nail fungus make an appointment with your podiatrist for an oral prescription.” Summer is prime season for athlete’s foot. To keep your feet fungus-free, follow these tips:
- Keep your feet dry and clean. Apply a topical anti-fungal medication on any cracking or peeling areas of the skin.
- Wear socks that are made of an acrylic fiber, not cotton (acrylic wicks moisture away from the feet), and change your socks at least once a day.
- Cover your feet with antiperspirant. The active ingredient, aluminum hydroxide, keeps your feet from sweating.
- Don’t wear the same shoes every day. Shoes need about 24 hours to completely dry out from the last time they were worn.
A Painful Condition Caused by Flat Soles
Flat soled, sheepskin lined boots may be more comfortable than a sleek heel, they are notorious for causing foot problems, most notably plantar fasciitis.
- Plantar Fasciitis is caused by the inflammation of the tissue along the bottom of the foot connecting the heel to the toes. It causes stabbing or burning pain that’s most pronounced early in the morning because the tissue tightens overnight. The thin and flimsy soles often found in winter’s sheepskin boots lack arch support and are primarily to blame for plantar fasciitis – they fail to offer adequate shock absorption to protect the tissue. The good news is that in most cases, says Dr. Zong, plantar fasciitis can be overcome without invasive surgeries.
- For those who won’t part with their boots, Dr. Zong suggests investing in an over-the-counter orthodic to give the boot some shock absorption. “These boots, while they may be incredibly warm and water proof provide just about no arch support,” says Dr. Zong. “My patients have been very successful both in treating and preventing plantar fasciitis as well as holding onto their boot.”
Foul Odor Plaguing Your Winter Boots?
Smelly foot odor can be quite embarrassing! Young and old, people of all age groups suffer from this stinky situation. The cause of foot odor is sweat produced by feet. Each foot has over 250,000 sweat glands and produces over a pint of sweat a day! Dr. Zong says, “Smelly feet, known as bromhydrosis, originates from sweaty feet. Sweat itself does not smell, but when it combines with bacteria, which is everywhere and not preventable, it creates a terrible odor. If you eliminate sweat you will eliminate odor because if feet don’t sweat they will not smell.“
Dr. Zong says “The first step to take in preventing foot odor is to keep your feet dry and sweat free. This is especially difficult in the winter because most people wear extra clothing like heavy socks, panty hose and boots to provide extra warmth and heat, which promotes sweating and odor. It’s important to try to keep feet dry because aside from odor, sweaty feet can also cause athletes foot.” There are several steps one can take with simple at home remedies to help relieve foot odor:
- Put powder in your socks.
- Make sure you wear clean cotton socks. Dr. Zong says, “Stay away from socks that contain nylon and polyester. These materials do not allow feet to breather properly, thus promoting sweat and odor.”
- Tea is also a great home remedy for relieving foot odor. “I recommend to patients to emerge three to five bags of your favorite tea into a quart and a half of water. Bring the water to a boil. When the tea is steeping rapidly turn down the flame and add two cups of cool water to lower temperature. Now transfer the water into a more suited dish for your feet and begin soaking,” says Dr, Zong. “Tannin, active ingredient in tea, works wonders to dry skin and alleviate odor. Tea is an antioxidant that will help to revitalize feet, thus leaving feet feeling fresh and smelling great.”
- Use an antiperspirant to reduce foot odor, specifically brands that offer roll-on or spray antiperspirant are easiest to use on feet.
- “If the sweating and odor persist I recommend seeing a podiatrist and getting a prescription antiperspirant, like Drysol,” says Dr. Zong.