Smelly Feet: Causes and Treatments

Do you currently have smelly feet? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of people around the world suffer from the same thing.

The question is, what causes it? In the sections below, we’ll explore the most common causes.

What Causes Stinky Feet?

smelly feet

Believe it or not, the problem isn’t with your feet- it’s with your shoes.

Smelly feet are most commonly found in people who don’t get enough ventilation on their feet. Each foot has about 250,000 sweat glands.

It’s able to produce about 1 pint of sweat per day- that’s quite a bit! There’s a lot of moisture building up around your feet.

But if the perspiration has nowhere to go, then, you guessed it, it causes foot odor.

The Link Between Bacteria and Smelly Feet

It’s no secret that bacteria love dark, warm, and wet places. Well, the foot is the perfect place for this: it’s dark, warm, and wet!

It has all the things bacteria need to survive and replicate. The bacteria literally feed off your foot sweat.

This ends up producing something called isovaleric acid. This is the molecule that leads to smelly feet.

What is Athlete’s Foot?

stinky feet

Another possibility for your smelly feet is athlete’s foot. This isn’t bacterial in nature. Instead, it’s caused by a fungus that grows on your feet.

Remember that, like bacteria, fungi thrive in areas that are dark, warm, and most importantly, moist.

Therefore, it’s so important to ventilate your feet throughout the day. Because if you don’t, you’re at an increased risk of getting athlete’s foot.

Smelly feet by athlete’s foot can be caused by some medications, certain diseases, and poor hygiene. Wearing poor-quality shoes is also a possibility.

Who’s Most at Risk of Getting Stinky Feet?

There are subsets of people who are more likely to develop foot odors. Here are some activities that can increase your chances of getting this symptom:

  • Visiting public places barefoot (locker rooms, swimming pools, etc.)
  • Wearing close-toe shoes that are tight-fitting
  • Sharing socks or towels with someone who has athlete’s foot
  • Wearing wet shoes or socks for extended periods of time
  • Having excessively sweaty feet (more than the average person)

Many of these things are within your control. For instance, when walking in public locker rooms or around public swimming pools, keep your feet covered.

The only thing on this list that you can’t control is feet that sweat excessively. It might simply be a genetic factor that’s beyond your control.

Symptoms That Often Accompany Athlete’s Foot

Typically, smell isn’t the only symptom associated with athlete’s foot. Other symptoms include:

  • Itching
  • Stinging
  • Burning between toes
  • Blisters on feet
  • Cracking or peeling skin
  • Raw skin
  • Dry skin

It’s also possible for your toenails to pull away from the nail bed. As you can see, athlete’s foot is more than just a stinky foot.

It includes many unpleasant symptoms that can bet quite distracting (and embarrassing). Now let’s talk about some ways that you can prevent this foot condition.

How to Prevent Smelly Feet

As we mentioned earlier, your feet produce a lot of sweat throughout the day. Unfortunately, this isn’t something you can change.

However, you can allow the sweat to evaporate, which prevents it from accumulating around your feet.

It’s recommended that you wear breathable shoes and socks.

Socks made from cool max, wool, or copper are excellent for this since they increase ventilation.

You can also buy shoes that come with built-in anti-bacterial support. This is another way to prevent smelly feet.

Follow Good Foot Hygiene

athletes foot hygiene

It’s important that you wash your body every day to reduce your chances of smelly feet.

This is especially important for people who have a history of stinky feet.

Preferably, use anti-microbial soap when washing your feet. Only when shoes when you need to.

For example, if you’re around the house, wear flipflops or sandals to allow your feet to air out.

You don’t want to allow too much sweat to build up within the shoe. Otherwise, you’ll likely develop smelly feet.

Finally, don’t wear pants, socks, and most importantly, boots if you know that it’s going to be hot outside.

Heat plus boots is a recipe for the accumulate of odor-producing bacteria. Now let’s talk about how to treat feet that are already producing odor.

How to Treat Stinky Feet

There are various smelly feet remedies- both commercial and natural- that you can find online.

Our recommendation is to try the natural remedies first (using good hygiene, etc.). If that doesn’t work, then you may want to try a commercial treatment.

If the commercial remedies aren’t getting rid of your smelly feet, then you may want to talk with a doctor about it.

Parting Thoughts

Make sure that you wash your feet daily with antifungal soap to reduce the odor. There are various creams and sprays for athlete’s foot that work quite well.

Remember that the best way to treat smelly feet is to avoid it in the first place.

By washing your feet daily, and avoiding the buildup of moisture, you’ll dramatically reduce your risk.

By following the tips and advice in this article, you may be able to get rid of this embarrassing problem once and for all.

Ask a Question: If you want to ask a medical doctor a question that hasn't been answered in one of our articles go to: Ask a Medical Doctor About your Symptoms

Did you find the information in this article helpful?

Leave a Comment