No More Smelly Feet: How to Keep Your Toes Looking Sexy

"Smelly feet, smelly feet, what are they feeding you?"

Take a good look at your feet, especially your toenails. Are they brittle and/or thickened, discolored? Are they foul-smelling? If the answer is yes, there's a chance you might have a fungal infection in your foot.

Fungus breeds in hot, moist areas — and with sandal season in full swing, it's time to talk about the prevention and treatment of foot and toenail fungus.

“Fungus is an opportunistic organism — it’s all over the place in the summer,” Dr. Suzanne Levine, a board-certified podiatric surgeon based in New York City told “It’s there when we are playing sports, in the showers, on the beaches, especially if we are perspiring. It loves moisture.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of a foot fungal infection include:

— Thickened toenails

— Brittle, crumbly toenails

— Discolored toenails

— Itchy, scratchy skin

— Blistering skin

— Toe pain and/or a slightly foul odor

Fungal infections can begin in the nail or the skin, Levine said, and then spread. If it starts in the nail, it can stem from an infection or trauma, and lead to a more dangerous condition, such as cellulitis.

Also, fungal infections can be easily spread among family members, she said.

Levine offered these tips to avoiding fungal infections and achieving sandal-ready feet:

1. Never walk barefoot in a locker room, steam room or public shower;

2. If you are going for a pedicure, make sure the whirlpool tub is thoroughly cleaned with bleach and the tools are disinfected;

3. Consider bringing your own bleach and tools to the salon;

4. If you constantly wear nail polish, give your toenails a break and let them breathe for a week;

5. Use a moisturizing agent around your toenail cuticles, but avoid cutting the cuticles;

6. Treat yourself to a foot facial, or microdermabrasion, which will rid the skin of fissures, cracks and/or dry heels; but it should be done with under the supervision of a health care provider.

If you already have a fungal infection, Levine said it is imperative to treat the condition aggressively.

“There are all kinds of products on the market,” she said. “Start with a topical agent like urea cream, but you might want to see a doctor if those don’t work because you may need oral medication, in which case blood tests will be needed to monitor your liver enzymes.”

Follow these guidelines and soon you'll be humming "Sexy feet, sexy feet . . ."