why does my feet smell like vinegar

The science answer: Foot odor is caused by bacteria on our skin that eats the sweat and excretes waste that has a strong odor. It's perfectly normal to have bacteria on your skin, and it doesn't ordinarily produce a noticeable smell, but the sweat our feet excrete can't easily escape into the air -- it all collects on our skin and in our socks and shoes. The bacteria love this dark, damp feast and have a sort of feeding frenzy. Propionic acid (also called propanoic acid) is present in many foot sweat samples. This acid is a breakdown product of amino acids by Propionibacteria, which thrive in the ducts of adolescent and adult sebaceous (sweat) glands. As propionic acid is chemically structured similarly to acetic acid (vinegar), producing similar physical characteristics including odors, this may account for the foot odors identified as being vinegar-like smell by certain persons.


A foot odor that smells like ammonia may mean that you have a diet which is too high in proteins and/or you may be consistently dehydrated. If this is the case, an excessive amount of amino acids will be used for energy causing your sweat to smell like ammonia. Solution if this is the problem - drink more water and/or eat less protein. The solution? Wear loose shoes (such as sneakers) that allow your feet to breathe instead of constrictive shoes (such as boots) and wear cotton socks as they will trap the sweat. This will reduce the amount of sweat available for the bacteria to eat. If you own more than one pair of shoes, it is best to let each pair air out for 24 hours before wearing them again. It will also help if you wash your feet with antibacterial soap since this will kill much of the bacteria.
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Sweat itself is odorless; however, it creates a beneficial environment for certain bacteria to grow, producing foul-smelling substances. These bacteria are naturally present on our skin as part of the (though more smell is created when closed-toe shoes are worn). The front part of the foot is where it produces the most sweat. Therefore, more smell is created with factors causing more sweating, such as wearing closed-toe shoes for many hours. Socks generally do not cause foot odor on their own, but when worn along with shoes, socks can help to trap the on the feet, especially on the toes, and may contribute to the odor's intensity by adding increased surface area in which the bacteria can thrive. [ Given that socks directly contact the feet, their composition can affect foot odor. and are common synthetic materials used to make socks, but generally provide less ventilation than or do when used for the same purpose.


Wearing polyester or nylon socks may increase the amount of perspiration because they do not let the feet breathe as well as cotton. This may intensify foot odor, although polyester and nylon can help reduce blisters by keeping the perspiration away from the foot. Many synthetic socks are treated with chemicals to help reduce odor. Since the insides of shoes are typically not washed (unlike socks), and since socks also help to absorb perspiration from feet, wearing closed-toe shoes without socks increases the amount of sweat accumulating in shoes, enabling bacteria to grow over time.


Bacterial growth is facilitated in this case because closed-toe shoes do not receive adequate air ventilation (especially in the toe area, where the feet produce the greatest amount of sweat), so the sweat cannot evaporate while the shoe is being worn, in addition to there being no socks to absorb the sweat. Dead skin cells, dirt and oils can also accumulate in the shoe from the foot over time which can increase odor inside the shoe. Mold and fungus are also more likely to form if socks are not worn which can increase odors and other foot issues. If closed-toe shoes (such as ballet flats or pumps) must be worn without socks, the best prevention of foot odor is to slip the shoes off momentarily, at least part-way, whenever the feet start to feel "hot" or sweaty, to allow sweat to evaporate from the feet and shoes. [

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