How to stop smelly feet – live well – nhs choices
Anyone can get sweaty feet, regardless of the temperature or time of year. But teenagers and pregnant women are especially prone because hormonal changes make them sweat more.
You’re also more likely to have foot perspiration if you’re on your feet all day, if you’re under a lot of stress or ifВ you have a medical condition called hyperhidrosis, which makes you sweat more than usual. Fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot, can also lead to badВ foot odour.
According to podiatrist,В Lorraine Jones, feet become smelly if sweat soaks into shoes andВ they don’tВ dry before you wear them again.
Bacteria on the skin break down sweat as it comes from the pores. A cheesy odour is released as the sweat decomposes.
“Your feet sweat into your shoes all day so they get dampВ and bacteria start to grow.В The bacteria continue to breed once you’ve taken your shoes off, especially if you put them in a dark cupboard. Then, when you put your shoes back on the next day, even if you’ve just had a shower, putting your feet into still damp shoes creates the perfect conditions for the bacteria to thrive ” warm, dark and moist.”
How to treatВ smelly feet
The good news is thatВ there’s a simple, quick, sure-fireВ solution to smelly feet.
Wash your feet with an anti-bacterial soap called Hibiscrub. There are lots of over-the-counter foot hygiene products at your local chemist, but Hibiscrub is the best one.
Leave on the Hibiscrub for a couple of minutes, then wash it off.
According to Lorraine, “if you do this twice a day, you’ll definitely banish smelly feet within a week.”
SheВ adds that you shouldn’t use Hibiscrub on your feet if you have broken skin, such as eczema.
Preventing smelly feet
Keeping feet fresh and sweet smelling is all down to good personal hygiene and changing your shoes regularly. To keep feet fresh:
Never wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. Instead, wear different shoes on successive days so they have at least 24 hours to dry out.
Make sure teenage boys have two pairs of trainers so thatВ they don’t have to wear the same pair for two or more consecutive days.
Wash and dry your feet every day and change yourВ socks (ideally wool or cotton, not nylon)В at least once aВ day.
Keep your toenails short and clean and remove any hard skin with a foot file. Hard skin can become soggy when damp, which provides an ideal home for bacteria
If you’re particularly susceptible to sweaty feet, it’s a good idea to:
dab between your toes with cotton wool dipped in surgical spirit after a shower or bath ” surgical spirit helps dry out the skin between the toes really well “В in addition to drying them with a towel
use a spray deodorant or antiperspirant on your feet “В a normal underarm deodorant or antiperspirant works just as well as a specialist foot product and will cost you less
put medicated insoles, which have a deodorising effect, in your shoes
try feet-freshВ socks “В some sports socks have ventilation panels to keep feet dry,В and antibacterial socks are impregnated with chemicals to discourage the odour-producing bacteria that feed on sweat
wear leather or canvas shoes, as they let your feet breathe, unlike plastic ones
wear open-toed sandals in summer and go barefoot at home in the evenings
When to see a doctor
Smelly feetВ are aВ harmlessВ problem that generally clears up. Sometimes, however,В it can be a sign of a medical condition.
See your GP if simple measures to reduce your foot odourВ don’tВ help, or if you’re worried that your level of sweating isВ abnormally high.
Your doctor canВ offer you aВ strong prescription antiperspirant or refer youВ for a treatment called iontophoresis, which delivers a mild electric current through waterВ to your feet to combat excessive sweating.
Here are more tips on how to look after your feet.