Why Do My Feet Smell So Bad?

Last updated: February 19, 2019
Published 1:27 am

I am not afraid to admit that I, like several of you reading this, have experienced the dreading smelly feet. That fear of taking shoes off due to their stench is something that has surely gripped all of us at least once in recent times right?

Why Do Feet Smell?

A woman with smelly feet holding her noseIn short, smelly feet (aka Bromodosis) are linked to bacteria. It can get even worse the hotter it is, and intense exercise such as Zumba workouts can make the smell worse as the sweat increases. Due to the hot moist environment that is created within our shoes, bacteria grow and thrive. They find a welcome home in dark, damp, and moist areas, especially between toes. Once the bacteria find their way into damp feet and set up shop, they will begin to multiply in numbers, slowly eating the dead skin cells and even the oil that feet produce. It’s when they start getting rid of the waste which is an organic acid that the smelling begins. Sometimes a special type of bacteria can find its way on to your feet and these create a very particular sulfur smell.

How To Prevent Smelly Feet

If you’d like to know some quick tips on how to prevent or somewhat get rid of smelly feet, try following some of the below advice:

  • It is important to keep your feet as dry as possible; damp conditions will quickly become a harvesting ground for the all too willing bacteria.
  • Remember to change your socks after exercising or simply just wearing shoes for a long time. If you continue to wear the same socks, they may not have dried from the last time and can still be damp which is bad news.
  • If your socks smell, wash them and wear a fresh pair. Try not to wear the same pair twice without washing them.
  • Some companies even make foot powders which can help absorb the dampness thus creating a drier environment for your feet.
  • Make sure you always dry your feet after washing them, whether it’s with a towel or air dry, ensure they are fully dry before wearing shoes or socks.
  • Try not to wear sneakers or shoes without socks. Sandals and open toe shoes are fine, but sneakers in particular will soak up sweat and eventually leave a stale smell.
  • It’s not uncommon to regularly wash your smelly running shoes or other non-leather sneakers in the washing machine, especially after a long run or gym session.
  • If you have any kind of foot injury, make sure it’s tended to as soon as possible. Any injury will be prone to bacterial attack, which not only leads to worsened injury but increased pong too.
  • Spraying your feet with deodorant as a good way of getting rid of stinky feet for the short term, but not exactly a preventative measure.
  • As we mentioned earlier, bad foot odor is linked to sweaty feet, so, perhaps try an antiperspirant if you go down the deodorant route.
  • Provided you have tried all of the above and still have stinky feet, consider seeking professional advice from a podiatrist.