What’s the best treatment for smelly feet?

What’s the best treatment for smelly feet?

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What’s the best treatment for smelly feet?

Authored by Dr Richard Bennett on 18.04.2019
Medically Reviewed by Dr Aifric Boylan
Last updated on 18.04.2019

What causes smelly feet?

The medical word for smelly feet is “Bromodosis”. It can happen to absolutely anyone. There are several causes of smelly feet. Three of the commonest causes of smelly feet are:

  • Excessive sweating (Hyperhidrosis)
  • Pitted keratolysis – this is commoner in men. Bacteria causes the skin to become soft, damp, dimpled and stinky. It can usually be treated with antibacterial ointment
  • Athlete’s foot (tinea)- this is a fungal infection that gets into the skin, usually via cracks in the skin between the toes. Athlete’s foot can usually be treated with antifungal cream

Are smelly feet more common in men or women?

  • It’s actually more common in teenagers and in pregnant women because of hormonal changes
  • It’s also more common in people whose feet sweat a lot
    • If you’re working on your feet all day
    • If you’re wearing shoes that are too tight
    • If you’re in a hot environment
    • If you suffer from hyperhidrosis

what causes smelly feet

What conditions can be treated by our online doctors?

The 10 commandments for treating smelly feet

  1. Make sure your shoes fully dry out before you put them on again
  2. Don ‘t wear the same shoes on consecutive days
  3. Don’t wear plastic shoes – leather or fabric shoes are better
  4. Don’t ever wear shoes without socks
  5. Change your socks at least daily
    • You could also try specialised socks for smelly feet (which have antibacterial properties)
  6. Use antibacterial soap to wash your feet – or ask your GP if antibacterial ointment may help
  7. Dry your feet thoroughly after washing them
  8. File off any thickened skin on your feet & clip your toenails regularly
  9. Wear antiperspirant deodorant spray on your feet
    • You could also try deodorant insoles
  10. Use foot powder to absorb sweat (available at pharmacies)

What if these measures don’t work ?

  • See your GP or a local podiatrist
  • There may be a skin condition they could help you with
  • Your doctor may discuss other approaches such as:
    • A prescription deodorant
    • Electric current therapy
    • Injections for hyperhidrosis 

Further patient resources



Article resources

CMAJ – Pitted Keratolysis- an infective cause of foot odour

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About the Author:

Richard Bennett
Dr Richard Bennett is an experienced UK-qualified GP, based in Melbourne. He attended medical school at Imperial College in London, and subsequently worked at Charing Cross Hospital and Royal Surrey County Hospital, before completing his vocational training in General Practice. For many years he was a GP owner in Norwich, where he was also an Executive Board Member for the Local Health Authority. He is a full time doctor working in a busy Melbourne GP clinic, as well as a founder and director of Qoctor. He is a regular contributor on the topics of migraine and mental health.

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