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Smelly Feet (Foot Odor)

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Smelly feet (foot odor; malodorous; bromhidrosis) can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are a number of things that can be done to help.

Cause of smelly feet

Feet can smell as the foot sweats and its trapped inside footwear. It is the interaction of these two factors along with bacteria that cause the smell. Feet have more sweat glands than any other part of the body, so they can sweat profusely which can not evaporate (like it can on the hands) due to being enclosed in footwear. The bacteria produce isovaleric acid which is what causes the odor.

A number of conditions can increase the chance for smelly feet, such as a sweaty foot (hyperhidrosis), stress, some drugs and hormonal changes.


Preventing smelly feet

It is relatively easy to control most cases of smelly feet by taking number of preventative steps:

Good foot hygiene to reduce bacteria to low levels is the first place to start:
• Bathe your feet daily in lukewarm water with a mild soap and dry thoroughly, especially between the toes.
• Change your socks at least once a day (change your shoes as well if you do sweat a lot).
• Dust your feet frequently with a foot powder (always wipe beteen the toes to remove excess moisture, so that it does not 'clog' between the toes).

Wear thick, soft socks to help absorb the moisture. Natural fibre socks such as wool or cotton and other absorbent materials are better.

Avoid the use of nylon socks or plastic shoes - wear shoes that are made of leather, canvas, mesh or other materials that let the feet breathe.

Its is best not to wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row - they need time to dry out. Remove the innersoles from to help with the drying.


Treatment of smelly feet

If the preventative measures above for foot odor do not help, then further investigations by a health professional and more aggressive management may be indicated.

Stronger medications (eg aluminum chloride hexahydrate 20% solution) may be prescribed. This needs to be applied to the foot every night.

Electric-current devices that pass a small electrical current through the skin can effectively diminish perspiration for several weeks.

In the most very severe cases, a surgeon can cut a nerve that controls the sweating. How to get rid of foot odour


Links of relevance to the smelly foot (foot odor):

Ask a question in the foot health forum about smelly feet

Find a Podiatrist

ePodiatry's database on hyperhidrosis

Foot care books

Sweaty feet


Buy products to help with smelly feet (foot odour):

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ePodiatry is purely a source of information about foot odour / foot odor, smell feet, malodorous foot, bromhidrosis and should at no time be considered as replacing the expertise of a health professional. We recommend seeking professional advice for all foot foot odour / foot odor, smell feet, malodouorus foot, bromhidrosis and all foot problems before embarking on any form of self treatment or management of foot odour / foot odor, smell feet, malodouorus foot, bromhidrosis. Neither the content or any other service provided through ePodiatry is intended to be relied on for medical diagnosis or treatment. Do not delay in seeking health professional advice because of something seen on ePodiatry about a foot odour / foot odor, smell feet, malodorous foot, bromhidrosis or any other foot problem.
©2004. The information contained on this page about foot odour / foot odor, smell feet, malodouorus foot, bromhidrosis is subject to copyright. No part of the information about foot odour / foot odor, smell feet, malodouorus foot, bromhidrosis contained on this page can be reproduced in any form without the permission of ePodiatry.

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