Smelly feet

We all know what smelly feet are like, either personally or from someone that we know after they have removed their shoes. The cause of this smell is from perspiration or sweat, but is appears to be much more offensive than sweat from other parts of the body.

Our feet contain a larger number of sweat glands than the rest of the body, even the armpits of groin.  When sweat is produced the bacteria on our skin digests the sweat and produce the offensive smell.  Why it is smellier around the feet is because the smell is trapped by socks or footwear, and the bacteria can thrive and produce more by-products that remain trapped until the footwear is removed.

Why some people have particularly smelly feet is that they produce more sweat than other less fragrant people.

In order to deal with smelly feet you will need to reduce the amount of perspiration surrounding the feet, reduce the amount of bacteria on the skin of the feet, or a combination of these.

Use an antibacterial soap to clean the feet, preferably both morning and evening.  Change socks and stockings daily, and allow footwear to air and dry out before wearing them again if possible.  Limit wearing closed-in footwear as much as possible and try to wear boots only when necessary for safety.  Wear socks made of natural material such as cotton or wool as this will help to absorb and disperse perspiration around the feet.  It may be helpful to change socks during the day to alleviate foot odour, and definitely use socks in sports shoes that are designed to ‘wick’ or remove perspiration away from the feet. 

Your community pharmacy has preparations that may be used on shoes in order to assist footwear to become dry and odour-free. They also have treatments for reducing excessive perspiration and to determine if other conditions such as tinea that may worsen smelly feet are also present.  Talk to your pharmacist they have help and advice to assist your feet and footwear to become sweet smelling again.