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Smelly Feet

How can I stop sweaty smelly feet?

It is common and normal for your feet to sweat. However, if you are wearing shoes that don’t allow the sweat to evaporate, skin bacteria can break down the sweat and produce a distinctive smell.

You can help stop sweaty smelly feet by keeping your feet clean and dry. You can do this by a variety of methods, including:

  • washing your feet with antibacterial soap daily
  • always drying your feet well after they have been wet, especially between your toes
  • avoiding wearing the same pair of shoes two days in a row - give them at least 24 hours to dry out
  • changing your socks at least once a day
  • wearing wool or cotton socks instead of nylon
  • keeping your toenails short and clean
  • removing any hard skin with a foot file - hard skin can become soggy when your feet sweat and this provides an ideal home for bacteria

What’s the best natural remedy for smelly feet?

The best natural remedy for smelly feet is to keep them clean and dry. This is because feet tend to smell if they sweat while you are wearing shoes that don’t allow the sweat to dry properly. When this happens, bacteria on your skin break down the lingering sweat and produce a smell.

Effective strategies for keeping your feet clean and dry include:

  • washing your feet daily with antibacterial soap
  • always drying your feet well after they have been wet, especially between your toes
  • avoiding wearing the same pair of shoes for two days in a row
  • changing your socks at least once a day
  • wearing wool or cotton socks instead of nylon
  • keeping your toenails short and clean
  • removing any hard skin with a foot file - hard skin can become soggy when your feet sweat and this provides an ideal home for bacteria

You can also help your feet smell less by keeping them sweat-free. You can do this by:

  • using a normal underarm spray deodorant or antiperspirant on your feet
  • wearing leather or canvas shoes, as they let your feet breathe
  • wearing socks with closed-toe shoes
  • using a foot powder to absorb sweat
  • trying special antibacterial sports socks or socks designed for sweaty feet

How do you treat a child’s smelly feet?

Teenagers are prone to getting smelly feet because hormonal changes make their feet sweat more. There are many things you can do to improve a child or teenager’s smelly feet. These include encouraging them to:

  • wash their feet daily with antibacterial soap
  • always dry their feet well after they have been wet, especially between the toes
  • avoid wearing the same pair of shoes for two days in a row
  • change their socks at least once a day
  • wear wool or cotton socks instead of nylon
  • keep their toenails short and clean
  • regularly remove hard skin with a foot file
  • wear leather or canvas shoes, instead of synthetic (plastic) ones
  • always wear socks with closed-toe shoes
  • use medicated insoles and/or foot powder to absorb sweat
  • put normal underarm deodorant spray on their feet

What causes sudden smelly feet?

Your feet can smell if they sweat while you are wearing shoes that don’t allow the sweat to dry properly. If your feet suddenly start to smell, this may be because they are sweating more than normal.

Your feet may sweat more if you:

  • are on your feet all day
  • wear shoes that are too tight
  • are under a lot of stress
  • are a teenager or pregnant (because of hormonal changes)
  • more active than normal
  • in a warm environment
  • are overweight or obese
  • have hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)
  • have a medical condition that causes increased sweating, such as diabetes, endocarditis and hyperthyroidism

Do black socks cause smelly feet?

No. The colour of your socks does not tend to affect how much your feet sweat or smell. However, the material of your socks can play a role. Your feet may smell more if you wear socks made from non-breathable materials like nylon. This is because feet tend to smell if they sweat and the sweat doesn’t evaporate properly.

Can smelly feet be a medical condition?

Sweaty smelly feet tend to be harmless and easily improved with better foot hygiene. However, in some cases, foot odour can be a sign of a medical condition, including:

Speak to your doctor if you are worried that your feet are too sweaty or smelly.

Are smelly feet more common in pregnancy?

It is normal for your feet to sweat more during pregnancy. This is because of hormonal changes. If the sweat soaks into your shoes and they don't dry properly before you wear them again, your feet can also smell more.

You can manage sweaty, smelly feet during pregnancy by keeping your feet clean and dry, and changing your shoes regularly.

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Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.