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The feet have more sweat glands than any other part of the body. Shoes and socks can prevent sweat from evaporating or being absorbed, which attracts bacteria. The bacteria cause sweat to smell bad, leading to bromodosis (smelly feet).
If the sweat stays on the body it can encourage bacteria and fungi (which can lead to athlete’s foot) to grow. The smell is caused by the bacteria in the sweat.
Shoes and socks made from synthetic materials increase the amount of sweat you produce and do not allow it to evaporate or be absorbed, so the foot stays wet.
Poor hygiene can sometimes play a part, for example, washing your feet infrequently or not changing socks at least once a day. This allows bacteria to thrive, contributing to foot odour.
Stress, certain medicines and hormone changes can also increase the amount of sweat the body produces, which leads to sweaty feet.
Bromodosis can also be caused by hyperhidrosis, a condition where the skin sweats excessively. Hyperhidrosis is often most common in teenagers and pregnant women, whose hormones are changing.
If you have hyperhidrosis and you have been unable to keep your sweating under control, there are a number of medical treatments you can try, such as:
Read more information about treating hyperhidrosis and [how to stop excessive sweating].
Bromodosis can usually be controlled and treated by taking steps to reduce sweaty feet and bacteria.
Good foot hygiene is essential and the following tips will help prevent bacteria multiplying.
Using the wrong shoes and socks or wearing the same pair too frequently can contribute to smelly feet. Below are some tips on how to avoid this.
Certain products can help to treat smelly feet, or reduce odour. You may wish to try some of the methods below.
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.