It doesn’t kill anyone, but a common problem for moms with teenagers is….Smelly Sneakers.
Shoes of all sorts have an odor, but sneakers, with their polyester linings and thick soles, tend to be the worst. To make it worse, when you have growing boys, and they change clothing/shoe sizes every three months, investing in a pair of $100 leather sneakers is impossible, so if you are like me you go out and buy the cheaper versions, which often are plastic or have polyester net to “ventillate” the feet. And since they are growing, often they only have one pair, or more often they only wear that one pair day in and day out. (Wear your other shoes so I can wash these”…”But mom, they are geeky…”)

THIS LINK has a good explanation of why and what to do about stinky feet.
The reason for stinky feet is sweat, and bacteria, and dead skin cells that shed. The Bacteria move to your shoe lining and take up working on the sweat/dirt/dead skin cells in the shoe lining, and voila, STINKYSNEAKERS.

There are about 250 different types of bacteria that live on your skin. Most of them are harmless, and if you destroy the harmless ones, often the not so harmless ones take over. But nevertheless, for severe smelly feet, one way to slow down the odor is…to wash your feet, preferably with anti bacterial soap.
Odor eaters or shanking foot powder into shoes helps a bit. Changing to a different pair of shoes to allow the insides to “air out” also helps, unless your kid’s team has a “lucky sneaker” fetish and insists they won’t win if you change to a different pair of sneakers. And of course, sneakers can be washed in the washing machine (if you can convince your 13 year old that they will be dry before the big game tomorrow…and since you can only use “mild” on your drier unless you want a visit from your friendly fire department, you may not be able to dry them so quickly).

In worse case scenerios, if none of these works, often a short course of antibiotics will help. I used to prescribe Tetracycline, the same one we use for acne. Of course, it has to be taken on an empty stomach, and can cause rashes and allergies, but it helps for awhile.
The second way to stop the smell is to cut the sweat. This is where leather shoes are important, or shoes that ventillate well.

Another way is to buy cotton white gym socks. Since the washing machine loves to snack on socks, I advise you buy a couple packs of identical white socks at the same time. That way, you won’t have to spend 30 minutes of your busy morning persuading your son that wearing a sock with black stripes on one foot and a sock with blue toes on the other foot is really the latest fad.

The socks absorb the sweat and odor, and if you can make sure your son actually wears socks every day, and actually changes them every day– will help the odor problem.
The final way to get rid of sweat is anti perspirant. Yes, Right Guard will work, but you can get a stronger version from your doctor.

Finally, the shoe industry is trying to help by placing perfume into the shoe lining.LINK. Of course, there is always the possibility that your son will refuse to wear the “girly” smelling sneakers…and given recent reports that lavender and tea tree oil has been found to make young boys grow breasts, he may have a point.
So the quest for non smelly gym shoes goes on.

The good news, of course, is that the sneakers will probably only last three months before they wear out or he out grows them, and it takes new sneakers a month to ripen.

And there is more good news: eventually, he’ll grow up and learn to wash his feet, change his socks, and change his shoes to a different pair every day.
What will cause this miraculous change in behavior? Well, he now has a girlfriend…and SHE doesn’t like smelly feet.

————————————————–Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines with her husband, six dogs, three cats, and a large extended family. Having raised two boys, she has survived the curse of the smelly sneaker. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket and she posts medical essays to Hey Doc’s Xanga site.

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