Why Do My Feet Smell? 

Foot odor is a common problem that many people may have suffered from. But why do feet smell? Very often, it is caused by a harmless condition that can be easily treated. In some cases, however, medical intervention is required to determine the cause of smelly feet. Once a physician has diagnosed the problem, a course of treatment can be determined to help relieve the patient's food odor problem.

Why Do Feet Smell?

The conditions described below are some of the common causes of excessively sweaty feet and strong foot odors.

1. Bacteria

Like other types of body odor, sweat is the root cause of foot odor. The body produces sweat as part of its natural cooling system. Sweat itself has no odor, but an unpleasant stink can be caused by the exposure of sweat to bacteria on the surface of the skin. As bacteria feeds on sweat and dead skin cells, organic acids are excreted. This excretion is the source of foot odor. More than 10 percent of the population endures the worst type of foot odor due to the presence of particular bacteria called micrococcus sedentarius. This bacteria excretes sulfur compounds that produce a smell resembling rotten eggs.

You can fight bacteria by washing your feet with antibacterial soap, wearing clean socks and alternating between different pairs of shoes. And a doctor may be able to provide a treatment regimen to fight off this strain of bacteria.

2. Hyperhidrosis

This condition is characterized by excessive sweating that is triggered by stress or hormonal changes. Because the feet produce so much sweat when hyperhidrosis is present, it may not evaporate as it normally would. Instead, it becomes trapped on the feet and between the toes, allowing a high volume of bacteria to multiply. Having dirty feet or wearing synthetic shoes or socks can exacerbate the problem, allowing bacteria to live on the sweat and excrete the substances that cause foot odor.

Daily or twice-daily washing with antibacterial soap is a must for people with hyperhidrosis. Leather shoes and cotton socks that absorb sweat are also recommended for people with this foot condition. If the problem persists, a doctor may also be able to prescribe medications to address the symptoms of hyperhidrosis.

3. Fungal Infections

Why do feet smell? Well, another common culprit of smelly feet is fungal growth, also known as tinea pedis or athlete's foot. Itchy, scaly patches of skin on the soles of the foot and between the toes are signs of fungal infections on the feet. These infections are spread from person to person in showers, locker rooms and other damp environments where the fungi thrive. Over-the-counter medications can be used to treat fungal infections.  

4. Shoes and Socks

The material that shoes and socks are made from can make foot odor more pronounced. Socks made from polyester, nylon and other synthetic fibers provide less ventilation and cause the feet to sweat more than socks made from natural fibers like cotton.

Not wearing socks can also increase foot odor since the sweat is not effectively absorbed from the feet. Another problem is wearing shoes made from synthetic material, which can cause the temperature of the feet to rise and contribute to the amount of excess perspiration on the feet.

5. Personal Hygiene

Allowing sweat and bacteria to accumulate on the feet can contribute to the problem of smelly feet. Dirty socks and worn out shoes are also an issue. If you're not suffering from a medical condition that requires a doctor's care, keeping the feet clean through daily use of antibacterial soap and wearing absorbent cotton socks and leather or cotton shoes will help keep foot odor under control.

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