At one point or another, everyone has had to endure the smell of either your own, or someone else’s stinky feet. Having stinky feet can be uncomfortable for many people, including yourself, and cause some people to feel embarrassed. Interestingly, having smelly feet is a foot condition, and is known as bromohidrosis. So, what exactly causes our feet to develop such a smelly odor?
Causes of Bromohidrosis
There are numerous causes to the development of bromohidrosis. The main problem is due to increased sweating and excretion of waste (specifically isovaleric acid) from fungi and bacteria living in your footwear; this causes the foul odor you commonly smell. Your feet can produce large amounts of sweat daily (around 300 mL of sweat) and this provides a moist, ideal environment for bacteria and fungi to grow. Other conditions can increase the amount of sweat produced by your feet, such as stress, some drugs, changes in hormone levels, and increased physical activity (exercising, standing for long periods of time, etc.).
To put it simply, the easiest way to treat smelly feet is to eliminate/minimize the source of the odor – the bacteria and fungi. There are many ways to do this, some of which you can do daily, and make a habit of it.
- Shower regularly and bathe your feet (especially between your toes) to cleanse them and remove any bacteria
- Change your socks daily (try to avoid wearing nylon socks)
- Throw out any old shoes
- Try to wear different shoes daily as much as possible to allow time for your shoes to dry out
- Avoid wearing plastic shoes and choose to wear shoes that enable your feet to breathe (canvas, mesh, leather, etc.)
- Powdering your feet can help absorb some of the moisture; deodorants are not recommended since they do not eliminate the bacteria, they only mask the smell
- More aggressive treatment may be needed if the other treatments are not effective
When to see a Podiatrist
- When the previous treatments above have not worked
- You begin noticing a rash or redness on your feet
- Your feet start sweating more frequently without increased activity
If you or your family members have been enduring smelly feet and want more information on how to treat it, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona, and have all your treatment options presented to you to ensure you continue to maintain happy, healthy feet.