Smelly feet are a common issue that afflicts many individuals. Increased temperatures and inadequate air circulation make smelly feet more common in the summer than winter.
Although a widespread complaint, smelly feet can harm your romantic life, social life, and confidence. A nasty pong when you kick off your shoes at a gathering – or worse, your crush’s place – might cause embarrassment.
In this article, we’ll explain what causes smelly feet, how to prevent them, and how to get rid of them if you currently have them.
What causes smelly feet?
The technical name for smelly feet is bromodosis. Smelly feet happen when sweat dries on the skin, and bacteria grows in the area. Athlete’s foot and other fungal infections increase your likelihood of developing smelly feet.
Teenagers and pregnant women have sweatier feet than the population at large, as they experience more hormonal changes that increase sweat production.
Standing jobs, ill-fitting shoes, and stress further increase the chance you’ll suffer from smelly feet.
How to prevent smelly feet
Good personal hygiene makes all the difference in preventing smelly feet. Here are our top tips for overcoming smelly feet:
- Wash your feet at least once a day with antibacterial soap. This step is easy to incorporate into your shower routine. Make sure you wash all parts of the feet, including between the toes and the toenails.
- Dry your feet well after washing. Dampness creates conditions which allow bacteria to flourish.
- Don’t wear the same pair of shoes for more than two days. Allow air to circulate to unworn shoes to banish bacteria – many instances of smelly feet originate from bacterial growth inside shoes.
- Change your socks at least once a day.
- Keep toenails short, so dirt doesn’t gather underneath them.
- Exfoliate your feet regularly to remove calluses. When calluses are wet, they become soft and absorbent; fostering bacteria.
- Wear sandals on hot, dry days to air your feet.
How to get rid of smelly feet
If you’re currently suffering for smelly feet, you can overcome your affliction. Here’s our advice to help you leave smell feet in the past:
- Clean your feet once or twice a day with antibacterial soap.
- Rub surgical spirit on your feet with a cotton pad before you go to bed each night. This will help dry out your feet, to deprive bacteria of the damp conditions they flourish in.
- Place deodorising insoles inside your shoes.
- Change your socks regularly. More than once a day if you still experience a strong smell from your feet.
- Wash your socks on a 40°C+ cycle to banish all lingering bacteria.
Use foot antiperspirant if other techniques don’t resolve your smelly feet.
Last updated: 27 November 2020
Author: Bhupesh Panchal, Regulatory Affairs
Bhupesh started his career as a clinical toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products. After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
In his spare time, Bhupesh likes to cycle and has been learning to speak Korean for several years.