6 foolproof ways to get rid of smelly feet

We can all identify with that rank odour after removing our shoes at the end of the day. Here’s what causes smelly feet and what to do about it.

Foot odour – also known as bromodosis – is usually caused by either the build-up of sweat and bacteria or a fungal infection.

Each of our feet carry about 125,000 sweat glands, mostly on the soles, which means they can sweat buckets.

Sweat increases moisture and that can increase the risk of bacteria and low-grade infections that make feet smell, according to Australian Podiatry Association director Joe Brooks.

“Fungal bugs like warm, moist environments, such as the spaces between the toes or the arches of feet,” Joe says.

Reasons we get smelly feet

Factors that can cause feet to sweat more include strenuous activity, anxiety or emotional stress, being on your feet all day, obesity and some medications.

Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition that can cause people to sweat excessively, including around the feet.

As we age, foot odour can occur because feet become too dry, says Australian Podiatry Association president Ainslie Davies.

“As we get older, we sweat less and skin becomes drier,” Ainslie says.

“This can lead to skin breaks and tears that are vulnerable to infections.

Joe says a strong foot odour can also by a sign of type 2 diabetes.

“Your GP or a podiatrist can advise you on this,” he says.

Ways to reduce foot odour

So, what can you do to avoid smelly feet, or get rid of unwanted odours?

Foot deodorant

If your feet feel sweaty, try over-the-counter antiperspirant deodorants specifically for feet.

Charcoal insoles can also minimise odours.

Foot tonics

“Compounded pharmacy tonics can be helpful,” Joe says.

“I often recommend a compound with a salicylic acid base that helps reduce the amount of moisture produced by the feet.”

Wear good-quality socks

“Always wear socks when you exercise because they absorb moisture away from your feet,” Ainslie says.

She recommends natural fibres are best, like bamboo or socks made with a high percentage of cotton.

Give your shoes a break

If you exercise most days, Ainslie suggests having two pairs of gym shoes so you can alternate between pairs.

“When not wearing one pair, leave them outside to dry out and UV from the sun will also help kill some of the bacteria.”

Choose shoes wisely

Wear shoes in breathable fabrics, like leather – canvas and rubbery shoes are more likely to accumulate sweat and bacteria.

Give your feet some TLC

If you have foot odour, scrupulous foot hygiene is key, according to Joe.

“Wash your feet with antibacterial soap twice a day and dry them thoroughly, including between your toes,” he says.

Written by Sarah Marinos.