23 answers

8 Yr Old Son Has Stinky, White Feet. Has Anyone Seen This?

I noticed a couple of weeks ago when my son took his socks off that the bottom of his feet were white. White like paper is white. I washed his shoes, then changed the shoes all together. Didn't help. The white color goes away after he's had his socks off for 2 or 3 hours, then the feet are redder than usual. It is only white where the ball of his foot is and on the bottom of his toes. Not between the toes and no sign of disturbed skin or pruning. The doctor said it is from his feet being so sweaty. The odor is beyond belief. His socks stink even after I wash them. This came on very suddenly and just after his 8th birthday. Anyone ever heard of this?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all so much for your responses. We took our son to the podiatrist. As was mentioned in a couple of the responses, he has pitted keratolysis. It is caused by a bacteria that in the right conditions can run amuck in the feet. My son recently started to sweat a lot in his feet, no where else yet, thank God.

Anyway, there is a foot powder that works to control sweat and kill the bacteria in his shoes. The doctor also said to spray his feet with anti-persperant, not just deodorant.
Other things that were mentioned here that helped was soaking his feet in tea bags for 10 minutes. Its a lot of work but does control the sweat better. Also, taking shoes and socks off as soon as he gets home and washing his feet help.

Thanks again.

Featured Answers

That sounds like athlete's foot.
I would take him to the Dr. and get some advice and foot creme/spray.

My son has foot odor problems, too.
First, I threw out all his socks and bought a whole new set of sweat absorbing kind that help to eliminate odor. (I found mine at Walmart.)
Then, we washed his shoes and threw out ones we couldn't wash.
Basically, we started NEW with shoes and socks.
Lastly, after every bath EVERY night we dry his feet, put athlete's feet cream, apply foot powder and put socks on for bedtime.
Don't forget foot powder in his shoes when he takes them off every night.
It's a huge job, but it beats athlete's feet and smelling up the whole house nightly!

More Answers

A great remedy for stinky or fungus-y feet is tea tree oil. It is safe (you can even use it internally) You can buy a prepared lotion, or just use the essential oil (a few drops) in your favorite body lotion, or get a foot soak with that ingredient. Massage his feet with the lotion, and show him how to massage his own feet. It's a great way to teach him to take care of his feet & feels great too.
Use more ventilated shoes (no "pleather"!), and definitely use natural fiber socks, not synthetic (acrylic or nylon).
I agree to check his diet to see if he's getting enough water, & maybe eating too much sugar or foods that acidify his body's pH...check www.healthyhealing.com to learn about alkalizing foods & body/foot odor. Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi V., My daughter had the same issue. We heard that soaking feet in tea at night(yes tea :) reduces sweating...something about the tanic acid? We tried it & it works, but it is time consuming. Try the Target brand of fungal foot spray ... green white and orange label. We use the powder after bath & give all the shoe "landing spots" a good dose regularly. We also add the foot insert pads to absorb the sweat/smell...so we can dispose. Otherwise buy shoes with more ventilation if possible.

I've not really heard of this, but you can try sprinkling powder in his shoes and socks and have him change his socks at least once during the day. That should at least keep his feet more comfortable.

That sounds like athlete's foot.
I would take him to the Dr. and get some advice and foot creme/spray.

Sounds like he might have a yeast infection - yes, it IS possible to get a yeast infection on the feet! It can also just as easily be a foot fungus (athletes foot) - what is important is the type of shoes you put on his feet (my younger sister always had very sweaty feet as a kid, stinky too, and because of this she had chronic eczema) and the sort of socks he wears.
Since the weather is warming up, get him some sandals (they make athletic sandals that have all the good support of regular running shoes) and keep his socks off - when he does wear socks, use thinner cotton socks (girls socks) so that his feet wont sweat as much inside of them. His regular closed shoes should be canvas which allows the feet to breathe much better. I would ask the pediatrician if you can treat his feet as if he had a case of athletes foot - even if he DOESN"T have athelete's foot, the treatment used will still dry out and soothe whatever else might be causing his issues - also, athelets foot or not, go to the drug store and get some medicated foot powder and put it in his socks and shoes EVERY MORNING before he leaves for school.

One more thing, make sure he does not wear his shoes with no socks. If he starts this there is no way to get the sweaty smell out.

It honestly is just sweaty feet, especially if it goes away within a few hours. Sounds to me like you need a shoe and socks that breathe better. My feet get like that if I wear the wrong shoes or socks.

Nothing too big, don't worry.

My son has foot odor problems, too.
First, I threw out all his socks and bought a whole new set of sweat absorbing kind that help to eliminate odor. (I found mine at Walmart.)
Then, we washed his shoes and threw out ones we couldn't wash.
Basically, we started NEW with shoes and socks.
Lastly, after every bath EVERY night we dry his feet, put athlete's feet cream, apply foot powder and put socks on for bedtime.
Don't forget foot powder in his shoes when he takes them off every night.
It's a huge job, but it beats athlete's feet and smelling up the whole house nightly!

Sounds like a fungus. Use some antifugal cream (athlete's foot cream) for a couple weeks, wash his feet daily, and encourage him to go barefoot or wear flip flops when appropriate. If that doesn't improve, pester that doctor for a perscription.

Try soaking the socks in OxyClean or Borax.

There was a saying "if your feet stink, Zinc; if you can't think, Zinc. The closest I could find now is: http://everything2.com/index.pl?node=zinc

There are foot powders that contain Zinc and most vitamin / mineral supplements contain Zinc (especially for men, apparently they need lots!). I think some of the foods high in Zinc include: meat, whole grains, nuts, seeds, green vegetables, and eggs. Other things said to be good for men and Zinc are Oysters and Pumpkin Seeds: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&db...

As always, do lots of research - you are doing the right thing learning about things that are not right - our noses and our eyes can tell us something is off. For me, personally, I had girls, and they had one or two pairs of shoes for their early life, but mostly sandals and bare feet (until school and mostly sandals until winter) until later in Grade School... and then some real shoes :-).

Vinegar, apparently, kills fungus and bacteria, so you can soak his shoes and socks in Vinegar and then wash and put in sun to dry... also my children love eating cucumbers with a little Vinegar (Apple Cider or Balsamic or Wine or Rice Vinegars).

Try using teatree oil on his feet, it is a great natual antifungal, smells good, and will also provide a moisture barrier for his skin!

In my (personal) experience this probably indicates that with the early onset of puberty he's developing overly active sweat glands in his feet. We push so many toxins out through the soles of our feet and palms that it can be off-putting when we see it. The more sweat that is produced in that warm, moist environment, the more the bacteria that lives on the skin to consume the sweat and dead skin cells, producing strong odor and a build-up of dead skin cells.

In my natural essential oil skincare line I produce a few things that eliminated this problem for myself and others:

Bergamot based oil blend restores skin's pH levels to optimal levels, controlling the size of colonies of bacteria living on the skin. (They need to be there, but they can get out of control and cause problems, such as excessive dead skin cells, fungus and/or strong odor. I make several products using this blend:

Soft scrub for exfoliation: extra fine pumice in a cleansing lotion to quickly exfoliate the built-up dead cells.

Goat's milk & glycerin soap: great for all-over body odor control and long-lasting hydration.

Massage/body oil and body lotion: great topical application for long-lasting protection during the day. Apply and let it absorb before covering in shoes.

Bath salts: great for a 10-minute foot detox soak or evening bath. Helps with relaxation and sound sleep, as well. This might be especially beneficial for a growing boy.

You can read more about me and my products at www.mccluckfarms.com. Good luck!

V. T

It should be checked for possible Yeast. However when my sons were 11 to 12 and they were not in puberty . Their socks and feet really smelled and then after some time(maybe some months) it went away. What I do not remember is the white then the red feet thus the recommend of checking for Yeast....Good Luck A.

Try putting tea bags in his shoes. Also, soaking his feet in tea.

Hi V.

I would check his diet and see IF he is getting enough water. I mention water because it's the one thing that can truly help cleanse our bodies on the inside..I agree with the other person who mentioned YEAST infection, we all have yeast in our system, but things like sugar can spur the yeast on, other things include mold. Mold isn't always readily seen by the human eye, it can be hiding in oils that youve had for a long time, peanut butter, tea bags, all sorts of things. additionally, I would try Calendula cream. (see californiababy.com) and or go to your local health food store. After a bath/shower, I would rub this on his feet each night. however, I would also go back to the idea that this could be food related. I believe many things are.
good luck!!


When you mentioned white stinky feet, the first thing that came to my mind was sweat. It might be a good idea to change from cotton socks to another material like nylon. A dip in tea bags might also help =) Also,try having your son sleep without socks on if he doesn't already and avoid wearing sandals for awhile. Good luck! Take Care!

Another suggestion....make sure he doesn't wear the same shoes day after day. Give the shoes a 'break' & let them air out for a day or so before he wears them again. Both our boys, as well as their dad, have sweaty feet & on top of that, our 7.5 yr old son wears plastic orthodics for his flat feet so I always make sure he alternates his shoes. Also, have your son go barefoot as soon as he gets in the house so his feet can air out, too.

Dear V.,
Welcome to the joys of little boy stinky feet!
I have been through this with my son as well.
His feet are sweating and not getting enough air.
Make sure you have cotton socks for him and shoes that can breathe. My son grows so fast that I tried, as a single mother, to just buy whatever shoes he liked and felt comfortable. But there is something to be said for shoes that are a little more expensive and can breathe. Get him out of his shoes if possible as soon as he gets home from school or sports. And have him wash them to get rid of any bacteria. Then, let them dry. My son actually loves me blow drying his feet on a low, warm setting, making sure to get between his toes. I have tried baking soda in his shoes, putting them out in the sun....but it seems that once that moisture gets in, you can't get it out unless you can put them in a hot dryer without the shoes falling apart. Getting my son some open toed terry slippers to wear around the house after his feet were thoroughly dried really helped as well. But wash them often. The odor may be caused by a fungus that you will need to have treated either by spray or powder but you will need to start it in conjunction with new shoes that allow his feet to breathe. And if you have a sunny porch, let his shoes air out as much as possible while not wearing them. "Odor Eaters" will help with the aroma of the shoes, but not with the dampness of your son's skin. Keep his feet as clean and dry as possible. Get him in the habit of doing it and it will get much better.
I forgot to say that soaking in Epsom salts is really great. And really inexpensive. But above all, never put socks or shoes on him with damp feet.

Relax, mom. (your doctor is correct)My little brother had the same problem when he was a little kid. You can go to the health food store and ask for this product called Lavadil? (I vaguely remember using it a long time ago!) As for the smell, you can rinse your son's feet with a solution of one third a cup of white vinegar & 2 thirds a cup of water. Let him soak for a few minutes, then let it dry on the skin. Then let him shower. The only other natural solution to combat the smell is using a baking soda rinse (tsp to a quart of water) and just trying to keep those smelly feet dry. Make sure your son changes his socks frequently, and you can use a cup of vinegar when washing his socks; or try pre-soaking for fifteen minutes or so.
Take care & good luck; this too shall pass...

Hi! Yes, my son also developed this condition around the age of 9. The smell was unbearable. We finally took him to the doctor, and the doctor identified it as something known as "stinky foot disease" - imagine that! - and gave us a foot wash to use. Since it has been a few years, they probably have something else they use nowadays to treat it. I have talked to others whose sons went through this - it seems to come up around this age, and then it goes away. Best of luck!

I've read something that if you soak his feet in black tea (not hot) it will help dry out his feet. Get new shoes for him and put baking powder in them. Have him change socks 3-4 times a day until he can get rid of the wet fungus. Now that the weather is getting warmer, have him wear Teva sandals or some type of sandal that can flow air better, or better yet, let him be barefoot as much as possible.

Could be the beginning of hormones. They actually start to kick in around 7 years old. I would check with a dermatologist to see what you can do about this since the doctor did not give you any advice on how to deal with it. Good luck.

I'm a fan of cotton socks, but for those with feet that sweat a lot, a synthetic is probably a better choice, as they tend to keep the feet more dry. It's time to go buy new socks and shoes, toss out the rest, as they are probably full of some odor causing bacteria that just keeps getting wet and stinky. Buy some foot powder to help keep his feet dry. He might have excessive sweat glands in his feet and you could talk to his doctor about treatment/medication for this problem (if he has that problem of too many sweat glands in his feet). Also, buy shoes that breath, and avoid shoes with extra lining on the side because they keep the feet warm. Since it's getting warmer soon, try switching him to sandals like Keen's. They keep the feet protected and cool. I think there are things to put in shoes to absorb odors and moisture when they are not worn. I like shoes you can toss in the washer and dry in the sun, rotate with another pair. I hope this helps. Good luck!

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