Why Are Feet So Stinky?

Chloe Effron / iStock
Chloe Effron / iStock

WHY? is our attempt to answer all the questions every little kid asks. Do you have a question? Send it to why@mentalfloss.com.

Some parts of your body, like your feet, get a lot stinkier than others. But it’s not actually your body that stinks. It’s the bacteria (back-TEER-ee-uh) that live on it. Bacteria are tiny living things with only one cell, but together they are powerful. They live all over you, and also inside of you. Some bacteria can make you sick. Other bacteria help you stay healthy. And some bacteria cause you to be smelly—especially the ones that live on your feet.

Feet can get hot and sweaty, especially when they spend a lot of time inside of shoes. Sweat is a good thing, because it helps cool your body down when it’s too hot. Sweat doesn’t have an odor. It is made mostly of water. The problem is, bacteria that live on your feet love wet, warm places. So when your feet sweat, bacteria eat the dead skin and oils that cover your feet and quickly reproduce (REE-pro-DOOSE), or make more bacteria. That’s when things start to get really stinky!

The bacteria on your feet give off gases as they eat. Those gases smell like rotten cheese, sulfur, vinegar, and other sour stuff—eeww! To get rid of those bad odors, you have to cut down on the amount of bacteria on your feet. Wearing clean socks can help. It’s also good to air your shoes out after you wear them. Most importantly, wash your feet with soap and water every day and dry them well. 

To learn more about stinky feet, watch this video from the American Chemical Society.


Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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Why Researchers Believe a 'Crappy' Coronavirus Test Can Help Fight the Pandemic

Cheap tests may be the key to fighting coronavirus.
Cheap tests may be the key to fighting coronavirus.
CrispyPork/iStock via Getty Images

Depending on where you’re located, getting a coronavirus test may not be so simple. It can take days or even weeks to get results, leaving people unsure of their status and potentially transmitting it to others.

Some health experts are now arguing that the country’s insistence on accurate tests that take time to process may actually be counter-productive in controlling outbreaks. They’d like to see a “crappy,” less sensitive test that trades accuracy for being inexpensive, widely available, and able to produce results quickly.

In an op-ed in The New York Times, Boston University economics professor Laurence J. Kotlikoff and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health assistant professor of epidemiology Michael Mina say that at-home tests that use saliva are inexpensive to produce and can be distributed on a scale that makes daily self-testing possible.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved these tests, which use paper strips to indicate infection, owing to the fact they’re not as sensitive as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) nasal swab tests and often give false negative results. But according to Mina, that’s not the whole story.

While it’s true simple paper tests that change color after just 15 minutes are less accurate overall, they do a reasonably good job when large amounts of virus are present and when a person is likely to be most contagious. And because the tests can be taken frequently—even daily—a person stands a good chance of identifying an infection. Positive results could also be confirmed with the usual nasal swab test.

Under most circumstances, a person going to a drive-up or walk-in coronavirus testing site may be evaluated only once. With paper tests, their status can be assessed daily, allowing for early intervention and isolation so they don’t spread the infection to family, co-workers, or classmates.

The test could even be government-subsidized and distributed, Kotlikoff and Mina say, absorbing the $1 to $5 cost per test to allow for monitoring in real time. Instead of the current structure, which sees only one in 10 people likely positive for the virus being tested, the paper tests could do a reliable job of providing data for the rest of the population.

“As long as you’re using the test on a pretty frequent basis, you will be more likely than not to catch the person on the day they might go out and transmit,” Mina told NPR. “And they’ll know to stay home.”

Companies like E25Bio have developed such tests, but when or if they will obtain FDA approval remains to be seen.

[h/t ScienceAlert]