Tannin at your feet

As the proverb says: “Never judge someone until you have walked a mile in his shoes”.

However, some people are afraid of being judged when they take off their shoes.

Foot odor is a very common problem that is still often considered a social taboo.

Solutions on the market do not address the root of the problem and therefore causing it reoccurrance.

But you have a powerful ally that will combat your foul-smelling shoes: tannin.

It is abundant in shoes made from vegetable-tanned leather or with an inside lining and insole treated with tannins.

Thanks to its unique properties, it prevents the formation of unpleasant odors and prolongs the life of the shoes.

Keep reading to learn more. If you can, make yourself comfortable and take off your shoes.

Smelly Feet Causes: a Common Problem

It is an embarrassing topic for some, and yet, foot odor is a common problem that affects men, women, children, teens and adults.

A research study conducted in 2012 by the IPFH (Institute for Preventive Foot Health) revealed that 16% of Americans over the age of 21 have experienced “smelly feet”. This translates to approximately 36 million people, in the US alone.

More and more people are searching on the internet under headings like “How to get rid of foot odor” or “Remedies for smelly feet”.

The search results often suggest buying products such as foot sprays or creams that are not effective over time and are quite expensive, or propose creative “do-it-yourself home’ remedies” of questionable reliability and efficacy.

Food Odor: the Results of a Research Study Conducted in the United States

%

number of Americans who have suffered from foot odor...

...or 36 million people

the target audience was over 21 years of age

Data source: Institute for Preventive Foot Health. “National Foot Health Assessment” (USA), 2012

Why Feet Smell: Facts and Myths

There is a great deal of inaccurate, and even completely false, information circulating out there regarding foot odor.

It is all based on the misconception that the person with the problem is responsible because he or she does not practice proper hygiene or has some “genetic disorder” (like excessive sweating) that is causing the smell.

The false myths contribute to undermining self-esteem and cause anxiety in any situation that requires taking off your shoes in public (at the gym, in a shoe store, at the doctor’s, etc.)

Here are a Few Statements that Need to Be Clarified:

Feet smell because they sweat inside shoes

True/False. Sweat is partially responsible for foot odor, especially in the case of Bromodosis, another term for excessive sweating resulting in offensive foot odor, a condition which is very common in adolescents and young adult males. But that is not the only cause.

Foot odor is always the result of poor personal hygiene

False. Washing your feet several times a day can temporarily control the odor but does not solve the problem.

Sprays and creams can remove odors from shoes

False. These remedies have limited effectiveness: the foot odor can therefore come back over time. Also, sprays, powders and creams can stain and eventually damage the inside of shoes and ruin socks.

What if we are looking at all of this from the wrong perspective? All the solutions to control odor consider the foot to be the source of the problem. What if the real “culprit” is actually the shoe?

In bare feet there is virtually no odor because the foot breathes when in direct contact with the air and the sweat evaporates. Perspiration regulates body temperature and sweating that is responsible for bacterial activity.

The warm, moist inside of your shoes produces excess sweating, causing bacteria to multiply and spread from your feet to your socks and back again. Even if you wash and disinfect your feet, as soon as they go back into your shoes, they are reattacked by bacteria. It is a vicious self-sustainable circle.

The amount of sweat secreted over 24 hours is usually between 0.5 and 0.8 liters. Its production can be influenced by different factors, such as fever, weakness, stress, physical exercise, taking certain drugs (like morphine, antipyretics) or excessive alcohol consumption., tensione emotiva, esercizio fisico, assunzione di alcuni farmaci (quali morfina, antipiretici) o alcol in eccesso.

Sweat consists primarily of water, vitamins, salts, glucose, urea and amino acids. Sweat is produced by the eccrine glands and is completely odorless. It is one of the most important thermoregulatory mechanisms because, as sweat evaporates, it absorbs heat (approximately 589 kcal per liter) and cools down your body.

On the skin of the human body (and therefore, also on the foot) there are various types of bacteria, for the most part harmless, which gain nourishment from the organic substances present in sweat. On each square centimeter of skin, there can be approximately 10 million bacteria. They are called “skin flora” and are especially prevalent and abundant on feet soles of the armpits.

Foot bacteria feeds on the amino acids present in sweat, along with dead skin cells, and biodegraded them down into short-chain fatty acids, which are volatile and have an unpleasant odor. These mainly include valeric acid, butyric acid and acetic acid. The characteristic cheesy and acidic smell of “stinky feet”, is the result of a combination of these acids.

The shoe acts as an “incubator” for the growth of bacteria: the temperature rises and the moisture increases, providing ideal conditions for their proliferation, especially in the presence of synthetic materials. More bacteria means more odor. The odor-reducing effects of sprays and deodorants are only temporary.

Vegetable-tanned leather is breathable, therefore the foot remains dry and at the ideal temperature. The tannin molecules fight bacterial activity, naturally preventing the formation of odor.

In bare feet there is virtually no odor because the foot breathes when in direct contact with the air and the sweat evaporates. Perspiration regulates body temperature and sweating that is responsible for bacterial activity.

The warm, moist inside of your shoes produces excess sweating, causing bacteria to multiply and spread from your feet to your socks and back again. Even if you wash and disinfect your feet, as soon as they go back into your shoes, they are reattacked by bacteria. It is a vicious self-sustainable circle.

The amount of sweat secreted over 24 hours is usually between 0.5 and 0.8 liters. Its production can be influenced by different factors, such as fever, weakness, stress, physical exercise, taking certain drugs (like morphine, antipyretics) or excessive alcohol consumption.

Sweat consists primarily of water, vitamins, salts, glucose, urea and amino acids. Sweat is produced by the eccrine glands and is completely odorless. It is one of the most important thermoregulatory mechanisms because, as sweat evaporates, it absorbs heat (approximately 589 kcal per liter) and cools down your body.

On the skin of the human body (and therefore, also on the foot) there are various types of bacteria, for the most part harmless, which gain nourishment from the organic substances present in sweat. On each square centimeter of skin, there can be approximately 10 million bacteria. They are called “skin flora” and are especially prevalent and abundant on feet soles and under armpits. .

Foot bacteria feeds on the amino acids present in sweat, along with dead skin cells, and biodegraded them down into short-chain fatty acids, which are volatile and have an unpleasant odor. These mainly include valeric acid, butyric acid and acetic acid. The characteristic cheesy and acidic smell of “stinky feet”, is the result of a combination of these acids.

The shoe acts as an “incubator” for the growth of bacteria: the temperature rises and the moisture increases, providing ideal conditions for their proliferation, especially in the presence of synthetic materials. More bacteria means more odor. The odor-reducing effects of sprays and deodorants are only temporary.

Vegetable-tanned leather is breathable, therefore the foot remains dry and at the ideal temperature. The tannin molecules neutralize the bacteria, naturally preventing the formation of odor.

How to Get Rid of Shoe Odor

 

It is possible to eliminate bad odor from shoes without powders or sprays. All you have to do is choose shoes made of vegetable tanned leathers, that respect the physiology of the foot: shoes that are breathable, absorb sweat and prevent bacterial growth.

Breathable shoes

Capable of absorbing sweat

Preventing bacterial growth

Tannins: Powerful Natural Substances

These properties are readily found in vegetable tanned leather and leather sole: natural material that create an ideal environment for the foot, by absorbing sweat and keeping the leather dry.

This is because they contain tannins, powerful natural antibacterial agents that naturally fight the microorganisms responsible for bad foot odor.

In fact, the leather sole can contain up to half of its weight in tannins.

The tannins used to make vegetable tanned leather shoes fight the bacteria responsible for causing bad odor.

Every time we take off our shoes the sweat is absorbed by the shoes.

When we put them on again, the foot slips into a dry and fresh environment that is free from any bacterial contamination.

Synthetic Materials and Bacterial Proliferation

Many shoes on the market are made of synthetic materials that are not breathable and do not absorb sweat, creating the ideal conditions for bacterial proliferation.

Sneakers, which are very much in fashion right now, are a perfect example.

The use of vegetable-tanned leather insoles or vegetable-tanned leather lining in sneakers effectively combats shoe odor.

Fortunately, today it is possible to find sneakers, and every other type of shoe, with vegetable-tanned leather inserts containing tannin, even if it takes a bit of searching.

From the Shoe to the Laboratory

Our shoes are essentially bacterial ecosystems. Just like in nature, the characteristics of an ecosystem have a major influence on the life forms that live there. Some scientists have tried to fully understand how the presence of tannin in shoes affects bacterial life. With surprising results.

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