Smelly Feet Causes Treatment

Smelly Feet: Causes, Picture, Symptoms and Treatment

Are your smelly feet embarrassing you? Are fed up of people’s reaction when you remove the shoes? Then, read ahead to know about the causes of malodor from your feet. You move from one place to another using your feet. But, the organs in the body can suffer aches, pains or even smells. In most of the cases, people can experience the case of bad odor from the feet at any point in their life. But, it can put the fear in your mind, which makes you hesitant to remove the shoes. The condition, also known as bromodosis can occur due to simple reasons. It is not a life-threatening condition. With some simple steps, you can manage the problem. So, learn in detail about the problem by reading below.

What Is Smelly Feet?

Stinky feet can point to a medical condition. It occurs due to the buildup of sweat resulting in bacterial growth on your feet. The bacteria can result in bad odors. In some cases, fungal infections can lead to athlete’s foot. So, you can suffer from bromodosis. The feet contain more than two lakhs (approx. 2, 50,000) sweat glands. The thousands of tiny glands can produce excess amounts of sweat every day.

Smelly Feet

Your feet hosts several numbers of bacteria that can flourish in sweat (the concoction of sodium and water). The bacteria can survive on your dead skin along with sweat resulting in the production of foul odor. When you sweat more, the bacteria get more food to live and multiply. It is a perpetuating cycle that completely depends on the footwear you opt, your sweating condition, and the presence of other problems with your feet (like fungal or bacterial infection). But, you can treat smelly feet without spending too much.

Symptoms Of Smelly Feet

Symptoms Of Smelly Feet
Pitted keratolysis

Unlike other health problems, the smelly feet are usually a problem in itself. In most cases, people suffering from the issue can experience signs like:

  • Foul odor when you remove the shoes
  • Cheesy odor
  • Infections (like ringworm)
  • Pitted keratolysis

In severe cases, the stinking smell can occur with the shoes on. When you face such a situation, you need to check your shoe and socks. If you see signs of infection, you need to consult a doctor. It is better to take the advice of a medical professional to get relief from the issue.

Causes Of Smelly Feet

In the majority of the cases, the foul smell occurs due to excessive sweating of your feet. Your feet have the most number of sweat glands. When the glands work continuously, they can release sweat throughout the day. Your body releases sweat to cool your body from excess heat. It also keeps the skin moist. So, what are the main causes of bromodosis? The significant problems leading to stinky feet are:

Pregnant Women/Teenagers

Most people can suffer from the problem. But, it is common among pregnant woman and teenagers. The fluctuations in hormone can make your feet sweat more. It can make your sweat gland work overdrive.

Medical Condition

Medical Condition

A medical condition, known as plantar hyperhidrosis can lead to excess sweating of the feet. People affected by the issue can struggle to keep the feet dry throughout the day. When you suffer from the problem, your sweat gland can produce abnormal quantities of sweat leading to foul smell.

Excess Stress On Feet

People who stay on their feet all day can experience excess stress. It can make your feet sweat more compared to normal cases. So, you can experience bromodosis.

Development Of Excess Bacteria

You have bacteria present naturally in your feet. In normal cases, the bacteria help down the sweat your feet produces. Once the bacteria build up in excess along with sweat, it results in a foul odor. You can experience the development of more bacteria when you sweat in your shoes, take them off, and wear them again without drying the shoes.

Poor hygiene

Bad hygiene can play an important role in causing bromodosis. You need to wash your feet regularly. It is also important to change your socks once a day. When you fail to follow them, it results in the excess growth of bacteria. So, it can trigger foul odor or worsen the stinky odor.


When you suffer from ringworm or fungal infection, it can trigger stinky feet. You can see the problem region between your toes. Other infection can result in ulcer formation. So, affected people can experience smelly feet. In most cases, ulcers affect patients who suffer from diabetes. If you have an underlying health problem that obstructs the blood flow to your feet, then you can suffer from bromodosis.

The condition cannot result in life-threatening complications. But, it can cause embarrassment and self-consciousness. But, the condition is simple that can alleviate itself by easy home remedies or treatments. You can prevent the condition by daily attention. With proper care, you can prevent or eliminate the stinky odor of your feet within no time. Depending on the severity of the condition, you need appropriate treatment. When you suffer from severe cases, you need prescription medication suggested by the doctor to manage the condition.

Treatment Options Available For Smelly Feet

The treatment for bromodosis depends on the factor causing the problem. So, it can range from footwear tips for treating the underlying infection triggering the foul smell. You can overcome the issue by following the options:

Footwear Tips To Overcome Smelly Feet

Smelly feet is not a serious condition leading to life-altering complications. But, it can cause you embarrassment. So, you need to check if your shoes and socks trigger the problem. The shoes and socks you wear can result in sweating. So, it can cause or worsen the foul-smelling coming from your feet. You can reduce the intensity of the foul smell by taking some steps:


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Wearing socks of breathable materials can reduce the foul odor of your feet. The sweat-wicking materials can absorb the sweat and promote airflow in your feet. So, it reduces the chances of bacterial growth, triggering the foul odor. Take care to change the socks to reduce the odor that can linger in your shoes.


You need to opt for breathable shoes if you suffer from excess sweating. Such shoes can reduce the incidence of moisture and sweat. When you look for shoes, try to find the shoes having mesh panels. It allows airflow in your feet and reduces the accumulation of sweat. Try to avoid plastic shoes as they can contribute to stinky odor. Shoes made from plastic (like jellies) can restrict the airflow to the feet. It can cause foot sweating.

Alternating Shoes And Socks

Own an extra pair of shoes and socks. It will allow time to dry out the shoes completely. So, you can cut down the risk of smelly feet. You can wear one pair of shoes one day and wear the other the next day. It will give your shoes the time to dry the sweat accumulated. You can also keep a change of socks on hand. If you experience excess sweating, then change the socks. It will reduce sweat accumulation and subsequent foul odor. Wash the socks and use them the next time.

Replacing Insoles

Replacing the insoles can reduce the malodor to an extent. So, you can switch the insoles with antibacterial or odor-reducing insoles. It will prevent the stinking odor. Another option is to buy disinfectant or anti-bacterial spray on your insoles. It is not as effective as replacing the insoles. When you replace the insoles, it allows time for it to dry out completely.

Home Remedies To Treat Smelly Feet

As the problem only causes embarrassment, you can treat it easily at home. You never have to spend too much money to manage the problem. Maintaining excellent foot hygiene can prevent and treat smelly feet. Good hygiene is the major factor to avoid foul odor. So, you need to wash your feet daily. You can use an anti-bacterial soap to remove the dirt and bacteria from the feet. Pay close attention to the areas between your toes to clean it well. Apart from cleaning the feet, you can also opt other home remedies to eliminate foul odor from your feet.

Exfoliating The Feet

You need to give importance to your feet like your face. It is important to keep bacteria and dead skin cells away from your feet. It will control malodor. So, exfoliate the skin on your feet using a pumice stone or scrub. It will remove the dead skin cells, which the bacteria feed and multiplies. You can use the pumice stone two to three times a week to avoid stinking odor. It will reduce the buildup of dead skin and controls the bacteria on your feet.

Salt Soak

You can exfoliate your feet by soaking it in the salt solution. Epsom salts can help manage the odor as it absorbs the moisture from the feet. So, it makes it a less inviting place for the bacteria to grow. You need to prepare the salt soak by dissolving one full cup of Epsom salts in a tub of warm water. Soak your feet in the solution for ten to twenty minutes. Dry your feet thoroughly after the salt soak.

Use Vinegar

The acidic properties of vinegar can neutralize the feet odor. So, you can soak your feet in vinegar solution obtained from two parts of warm water and one part of vinegar. You can use either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar for soaking. You can add the vinegar in a tub and soak your feet for at least fifteen to twenty minutes. If you have open wounds, cuts, sores or scratches, then avoid vinegar soak. It has the potential to irritate your skin.


Most people use deodorant to mask body odor. In most cases, you use it under your arms as you tend to sweat more in the specific area. You can use deodorant to mask the foot odor. Another method is to use antiperspirant on your feet. It can reduce your tendency to sweat more. So, it prevents the accumulation of excess bacteria and foul odor.

Keep Spare Socks At Hand

If you work in a highly stressful environment, then you tend to sweat more. Since stress can trigger excess sweat, you need to keep a pair of socks handy. The stress-induced sweat can have worse smell compared to regular heat-induced sweat. So, change your socks when you find yourself in a stressful situation to avoid bad odor.

Dust Cornstarch

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You can dust some cornstarch on your feet before wearing socks. It keeps the region fresh and avoids sweat production. You can sprinkle the starch liberally two times a day. Another method involves using baking soda on your feet. Baking soda can kill the fungus and bacteria and avoid foul smell.

Medical Treatment For Smelly Feet

In some severe cases, you cannot relief from the home remedies. In such cases, you need to get medical assistance. A medical professional can help you overcome the strong smell. So, it helps get rid of the foul smell that does not away despite your best efforts. Your doctor can suggest prescription stronger than the regular over-the-counter products available. The methods suggested can offer relief when other methods fail to offer result.


It is one of the treatments option to avoid excess sweat. During the procedure, a medical device delivers mild electric current to your feet. You need to submerge your feet in the water. The approach can cause a tingling sensation. But, never worry about shock as it is not strong enough. It is not exactly clear how the treatment works. But, it can block sweat from reaching your feet’s skin surface.


Botox can prevent excessive sweating and foul odor caused due to it. Botox also referred to as botulinum toxin is commonly used for cosmetic reasons. It can smoothen wrinkles from your face. But, it can also treat excessive sweating. The FDA approved medication is injected into your feet to get relief. The injection, also known as the plantar injection can last for three to four months. You need subsequent treatments to sustain the effects. The injection works by preventing the release of the specific chemical that signals the sweat glands to work. So, your sweat glands do not activate, resulting in less sweat and moisture.

You need to consult your doctor about the different methods that will work for you perfectly.

Prevent Smelly Feet

It is possible to prevent the odor coming from your feet. You just need to keep your feet clean and dry. It will help avoid most of the problems associated with your feet. So, you can follow the steps suggested below to keep the problem at bay.

Clean Your Feet

The most important step to avoid bromidrosis is to keep your feet clean. Use an anti-bacterial soap to clean the dirt and excess bacterial accumulation in your feet.

Keep Your Feet Dry

It is not possible to prevent sweating of your feet. So, you can only take steps to absorb the moisture and keep the feet dry. You can use specifically designed foot powders and sprays to absorb the excess sweat. It will keep your feet dry and avoid foul smell.

Use Appropriate Socks

If your feet sweat too much, then you need to choose appropriate socks to wear. Socks made of materials like cotton, some types of wool and special knit ones for athletes can absorb moisture. So, it will keep your feet dry by absorbing the excess sweat. It allows the feet to breathe properly. You need to put on a fresh pair every day. Wash the socks that get damp and dry them before using.

Change Shoes And Socks

People using shoes and socks regularly need to change them often to prevent excess sweat buildup. Wearing the same ones every day can make them smellier. So, let your shoes and socks dry out for a couple of days. Buy spare pairs of shoes and socks to wear dry pair every day.

Rotate Athletic Shoes

You tend to sweat more when you exercise. So, your athletic shoes can accumulate sweat and trigger the growth of bacteria. Therefore, rotate your shoes to prevent bacterial growth and subsequent foul smell.

Perfect Fit Shoes

Avoid wearing shoes that are too tight. It can make you uncomfortable and cause excess sweating. So, wear shoes that are a perfect fit for you. It avoids sweat and bacterial accumulation.

Wash Shoes

You need to wash the foul-smelling shoes to avoid the problem. Some shoes are easy to ash like sneakers. So, you can wash and dry them before use. You need to discard the shoes that are not washable.

Change/Clean Insoles

You need to either choose insoles that you can change frequently or the ones that you can clean. It will prevent the odor from staying in the shoe.

Appropriate Footwear

Appropriate Footwear

You need to avoid wearing shoes in warm weather. The hot weather can make you sweat too much. So, wear sandals that allow air circulation in your feet and keeps it dry.

Go Barefoot

Whenever possible, try to avoid wearing shoes. You need to let your feet air out. So, spend some time barefoot. You can choose to go barefoot at night. Never go barefoot outdoors can it can result in coming in contact with bacteria. Try to dry your feet by exposing it air as much as possible without inviting any other complications.


Smelly feet are the glaring sign that indicates the inability of your feet to breathe properly. The foul odor is unpleasant and makes you feel self-conscious about removing your shoes in front of others. If you detect the foul odor, then take steps immediately to correct the issue. Understanding the cause of the problem can help you manage the problem better. Check your shoes and socks as they are the culprit in most of the cases. If some underlying health conditions result in the stinky feet, then get assistance from a medical professional to deal with the issue. With proper care and maintenance, you can ensure the good health of your feet and avoid embarrassing situations. Spare a few minutes of a day to make sure you get rid of excess bacteria on your feet. It will prevent the condition and ease your worry.

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