Do you or someone you know have a reputation for smelly feet? Are strong, offensive foot odors something that seem just too difficult to get rid of?

Perhaps you have what’s known as bromhidrosis the foul-smelling body odor associated with sweat.

The excess perspiration associated with bromhidrosis is very common and can be found in various parts of the body, in this case, it occurs on the feet. When feet sweat, the bacteria that feed on the wet surfaces of the skin cause the odor. Warm and dark places of moisture are ideal breeding grounds for a variety of microflora including bacteria, fungus, viruses, yeast, and mold.

Your feet may be more than just stinking

Excessively sweaty feet can also cause further foot health complications including:

  • Blisters
  • Hot spots
  • Deterioration of the skin
  • Warts
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Cracked heels
  • Fungal growth
  • Ulcers

How can I reduce and prevent smelly feet?

For most people, faint odors associated around the feet are normal. The goal is to control the environment of the foot in which strong smells can be produced. Preventing the incubation of bacteria and other microbes is the most important way to reduce smelly and sweaty feet.

Change into clean socks two to three times a day.
Changing your socks regularly prevents any established, bad bacteria from growing while also reducing its spread. Fresh socks will absorb the liquids and odors associated with sweat. Socks help prevent the inside surfaces of footwear from promoting and spreading the bacteria and smells from the sweat. Cotton absorbs sweat and liquid. Acrylic, orlon, nylon materials pulls liquids away. Having a hybrid cotton-nylon sock is ideal for managing foot smells.

Change your shoes once or twice each day.
Wearing the same footwear all the time allows for the odor-causing microbes to survive and spread. Changing your shoes regularly will not allow bacteria to proliferate with and stick to the walls and soles of the insides.

Always wear socks with your shoes.
Your feet move and shift while you walk and go about your day. It is natural for the action of your foot and ankle to heat up and perspire as the day goes on. Consistently wearing socks with closed (at often with open) footwear will prevent smells from occurring by channeling sweat and bacteria into the fabric and not on the surface of your skin nor the materials of the shoes. Think of it as a absorbent barrier between the foot and the footwear.

Disinfectant powders and sprays.
Killing the bacteria will reduce the smell. Disinfectants sprays typically kill a large majority of the microbes and can be accompanied by a deodorant that will help control the smell while you work towards keeping your feet healthy and dry.

Leave shoes out in the sun or cold for several hours.
Environmental and weather 'elements' do a good job at killing odor causing bacteria.

Get rid of old sneakers and shoes.
Odor producing bugs survive and reproduce in older footwear. Old shoes can also cause a multitude of injuries and foot problems, in addition to keeping your feet smelly.

Don't wear socks to bed at night.
There are many people who claim they 'need' socks to fall asleep. Wearing socks through the night allows for the continual growth of bacteria. If not wearing socks to bed is difficult, try limiting it to every other night.

Use the correct soaps on your feet.
Liquid soap, perfume soap, gel soap, body wash, body detergents do not have the cleaning power or capacity compared to a simple bar of soap. It is very well known that the chemical makeup of bar soap does a more efficient job at lifting and removing germs than any other type of soap; this is what you need to help get rid of bad smelling feet.


Even if you practice good hygiene and the steps mentioned above, smelly feet can still occur. Although not very common, some individuals have genetic predispositions for sweating which can be controlled with topicals and prescriptions. Your Healthmark Foot and Ankle doctors can work with you to determine the best solutions for your stinky feet. Our doctors have witnessed some of the worst smelling feet out there and have many ideas that can help. Contact one of our offices today to begin an evaluation and potential treatment.