Doc, I have smelly feet. How can I stop this?


Men tend to have worse body odour than women

Wednesday March 18 2020

Dr Flo,
I’ve tried almost every treatment in Nairobi, to fight smelly feet and body odour. I have, however, been advised to use formaldehyde (formalin) that is used as a preservative. Please advise me on this. Where can I get it in Nairobi? A H

Dear A H,
The bad smell from your body or body odour is known as bromhidrosis. Everyone has body odour and it occurs due to the bacteria on the skin breaking down the acids in the sweat. It becomes significant after puberty due to development of the apocrine sweat glands. Men tend to have worse body odour than women because they tend to sweat more. If you sweat excessively, you may have more body odour, especially in the feet or armpits.
Body odour can be worse if you are obese; you take alcohol, spicy foods or garlic; if you are taking some medications such as antidepressants, or if you have some illnesses like diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, some cancers. There is a rare genetic disorder called trimethylaminuria which causes someone to have a fishy odour.
To manage the body odour, shower daily, and if possible twice a day on hot days; wash your armpits thoroughly, if possible, with antibacterial soap; shave your armpits regularly, so that the sweat evaporates faster; dry yourself thoroughly with a clean towel; wear clean clothes and socks made of natural fibres like cotton, silk, wool; use a strong underarm antiperspirant/deodorant; use deodorant foot powder; wear open shoes or go barefoot as much as you can; use a pumice stone to clean off dead skin on the soles of the feet; and limit the amount of spices, onions, garlic, red meat, coffee and alcohol you consume.
You can also apply aluminium chloride solutions or 0.5 per cent glycopyrolate solution on your armpits and feet, preferably in the evening just as you are going to sleep, to reduce how much you sweat the following day. Some other procedures that can be done to the most affected areas include iontophoresis, which utilises an electric current that is run through the skin; use of anticholinergic medication; or by intradermal injection with botulinum. These should be done by a dermatologist. In severe cases, surgery may be done.
Please avoid formaldehyde as it causes irritation to the skin and eyes and is associated with cancers of the nose, throat and leukaemia.

Dr Flo,
If I go for about two weeks without sex, my testicles hurt, especially after leaving the toilet. They hurt for like an hour, so I have to sit or lie down until the pain is over. Is this normal with men? S K

Dear S K,
This is known as epididymal hypertension, which happens when too much blood accumulates in the genital area after arousal without ejaculation or without decrease in arousal. It causes pain, discomfort, heaviness of the testicles, and they may look blue in colour. It happens if you are easily stimulated or if you use techniques to delay ejaculation. To manage it, you either ejaculate or reduce the arousal by using a cold pack, taking a cold shower, distracting yourself or exercising. Have a medical check up to rule out other causes of testicular pain like infection, kidney stones, or testicular torsion (twisting of the testicles).

Dr Flo,
During sex, my breasts are not as sensitive as would be expected because they are part of sexual organs. Why is this so? Can it affect other sexual organs? Violet

Dear Violet,
Each person’s body is different and what works for one person does not have to work for you, and it is not due to a medical problem. Though nipple stimulation does not work for you, it does not affect any other erogenous part of your body.