Smelly Feet: When Odor Knocks You Down

Imagine stopping by a friend’s house. You walk in the door and slip off your shoes so you don’t track dirt onto the carpet. Shortly after the shoes come off, however, it hits you: the wave of stink. You walk away from your shoes, hoping no one will notice the smell came from you, but the unpleasant scent wafts up from your feet and follows you around. Stinky, smelly lower limbs are an extremely unpleasant and embarrassing part of life. No one likes the smell of eau de foot. What’s a person to do?

The Unfortunate Odor

Like odor from other places on your body, smelly feet are caused by sweat. The bacteria that naturally lives on your skin multiplies rapidly in the sweaty, moist environment and breaks down old proteins on the surface of the skin. This produces foul-smelling acids. Particular bacteria also release sulfur compounds, which smell even worse than the normal body odor and create extra-unpleasant lower limbs. The sweat—and the bacteria with it—absorbs into your socks and shoes as well, passing on the odor and compounding the problem.

Though not necessarily harmful themselves, smelly feet are embarrassing. Generally people do not enjoy inhaling someone else’s body odor! Frequent sweating also puts you at risk for infections like athlete’s foot or fungal toenails, since the same environment that fosters sweaty feet is also fungus friendly. Fortunately, you can do things to reduce the odor and discourage infections so you can feel comfortable slipping off your shoes again.


Since heavy moisture is the root of the problem, taking steps to minimize sweat helps eliminate foot odor. Check with the doctors here at NorthPointe Foot & Ankle to help you determine if an additional problem or an infection exists that may be contributing to your odiferous lower limbs. They can also help you find the best way to fight the odor and restore your feet, especially if you have been struggling with the problem for a while.

Make sure you wash your feet every day and dry them thoroughly, including in between the toes. You may want to treat them with an antiperspirant or deodorant before you go to bed to reduce sweat and smell while you sleep. Change your socks regularly—several times a day if you’re active or your feet perspire heavily. Use thicker socks that wick moisture away, too. If you can, don’t wear the same shoes every day so that each pair has time to dry out before the next use. You may want to treat your shoes with an anti-fungal or deodorizing powder or spray as well.

If you can’t seem to get rid of the smell, or you notice visible changes in your skin, have your feet examined. You may have developed an infection or some other problem that is preventing you from eliminating the stink. You don’t have to live with embarrassingly smelly feet—you can get rid of the odor and enjoy taking your shoes off again. Contact NorthPointe Foot & Ankle in Berkley for an appointment or more information by visiting the online contact page, or by calling (248) 545-0100