This weekend I heard on NPR a short story on sweat glands. And, as you know I’m all about understanding my body (not really) and science (nah), I listened intently. The broadcaster dude said there are two types of sweat glands, eccrine and apocrine. He also said the eccrine sweat glands make sweat that really doesn’t smell. Those are sorta all over your body. The apocrine sweat glands are in your armpits and nether regions. These glands sweat has more proteins and that, my dear readers, is why that sweat smells.
That was about all the information I gleaned from that broadcast, but it did trigger me, but not in a bad way. It tickled my memory from the days of yesteryear. I remembered another radio broadcaster talking about sweat and there’s more to the story than eccrine and apocrine sweat glands.
Turn the page. I did some fancy finger work on my computer and found what I remembered.
The late Paul Harvey reported this startling fact in the early 2000s (And, this is the kind of science I can get behind): Each of our feet can produce a pint of sweat a day.
Between a pair of feet, that’s a quart of liquid a day, nearly two gallons a week — that’s like 91 gallons of foot sweat a year produced by one human. If we have 330 million Americans, that 30,030,000,000 gallons of foot sweat produced by the good ol’ US of A.
That, my friends, is totally gross!
We should all lift a toast up to Paul Harvey for his years of broadcast excellence. We need more broadcasters like him.
I will also say, I am not a doctor and I really don’t need to know all the ins and outs of my body. Unfortunately because of Paul Harvey, I will think about feet sweat for the rest of my life. For the rest of my days, whenever I have nothing else to do and while my mind is blank, I know I will soon ponder about the moisture produced by my own two feet. Then, my sons’ feet. Then all the feet in Oxford, Clarkston, Lake Orion, Ortonville and Goodrich. Isn’t there something we can do with all this foot sweat? Bottle it and do something? Any smart people out there, maybe you can figure this out and make millions of dollars.
(Please remember me, if you do.)
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One pint of foot sweat a day was a fact I didn’t need to know, and since I didn’t need to know it, but now do know it, I must pass it on — I need to get it out of my system. Now that the monkey is off my back and firmly gripping yours, let me tell you another thing (or as Paul would say, “And now for the rest of the story . . .”)
From my extensive, three minute on-line research, I was able to ascertain more fascinating foot facts. Do you know why your feet can each sweat a pint of sweat a day? I’m gonna’ tell ya — because there are approximately 250,000 sweat glands in each pair of feet.
Get this: Feet smell because 250,000 sweat glands do their magic while the feet are trapped inside shoes. And, if you are to believe the on-line information, it is the interaction of these two factors along with bacteria that cause the smell.
You may not believe this but, feet have more sweat glands than any other part of the body. So the next time you see some big, hairy guy with a sweat-drenched shirt, think about his feet, his poor shoes and his family. Feel sorry for this family. Have pity on this man. Don’t turn your nose in disgust, it is not his fault. It could be you. It could be me.
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Some pointy-headed foot specialist-types also say inside your shoes your feet create a warm, damp place that is just great for growing things like bacteria. The bacteria produce isovaleric acid which is what causes the odor.
And want to know another thing? The medical term for sweaty/smelly feet is plantar hyperhidrosis. That sounds worse than smelly feet and is a heck of a lot harder to pronounce.
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I don’t want to just report the cold, hard facts on smelly feet. As a kind and caring writer-type, I want to help folks. I want to reach out to that big, hairy, sweaty guy and say, “Dude, give your family a break . . . take a shower. And when you’re in the tub, clean between your toes. When you dry off, don’t forget to dry between your toes. Do this, Dude, and your family will again sit next to you on the couch.”
The on-line foot poindexters say it is relatively easy to control smelly feet. Besides what I just told the big, hairy, sweaty guy, you can also change your socks at least once a day.
They say to wear thick, soft socks to help absorb moisture. Also, natural fiber socks like wool and cotton are better than nylon socks. You can also use foot powders and try not wearing the same shoes two days in a row. If that doesn’t work, doctors can hook you up to devices that send electric current through your skin, which shuts down sweating temporarily.
If after all that your feet still stink, surgeons can remove the nerve that controls foot sweating. However, if you don’t want to do any or all of that, you can do like I do, air ‘em out throughout the day . . . while sitting in my office, I use the cover of my desk to hide the fact I have kicked off my shoes.
This has two positive effects. One, it keeps my feet dryer. Two, it keeps the riff-raff out of my office.
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