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BOD-ities: Help! What can I do about foot odor?

Riddle Hospital August 2, 2017 BOD-ities By Brian Crispell, DPM

Help! Every time I take off my shoes, my feet stink. What can I do?

First, don’t feel bad: This isn’t indicative of poor hygiene. In fact, smelly feet are actually considered a medical condition. 

There are more sweat glands on your feet than anywhere else on your body. If you’ve been wearing shoes or shoes and socks all day, your feet have been sweating but the sweat hasn’t had the chance to be absorbed. This can attract bacteria and cause your feet to smell, a condition called bromodosis.

Bromodosis isn’t just a problem during the summer months. Because shoes and socks provide a dark, warm and moist environment for bacteria to thrive, it can happen any time of year.

Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to address this issue. Many of them can be done at home, and are simple lifestyle changes:

  • Wash your socks in between each wear, and try not to wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row
  • When you’re shopping for socks, opt for those that offer moisture-wicking material
  • If your shoes have gotten wet, allow them to fully dry before re-wearing them again
  • If it’s safe, wear open-toed sandals during the summer and go barefoot when you’re at home. This will give your feet the chance to breathe
  • Use a spray deodorant or antiperspirant on your feet to prevent odor. You can find one designated for use on your feet, or use the one you have for underarms

A final piece of advice is to make sure you’re washing and drying your feet thoroughly every day. Although this may seem obvious, many people may overlook washing the bottom of their feet and in between their toes and drying them. This can help reduce any odor.

If you still find yourself struggling to cover up foot odor or with excessive foot sweating, talk to your doctor or a podiatrist. Other conditions, like a hormonal imbalance or athlete’s foot, could be to blame. 

Main Line Health podiatrists are certified by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery and are trained in both nonsurgical and surgical state-of-the-art treatments and procedures for injuries, diseases and disorders of the feet and ankles. They are experts in the foot issues affecting people with diabetes, and provide both ongoing diabetic foot care to avert any serious problems, and wound care when there are serious problems.

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.