Foot Odour

Causes, Signs, Solutions and Prevention

What is foot odour?

  • Foot odour is generally a result of high amounts of perspiration and bacteria accumulation on the surface of the feet.
  • It’s the combination of perspiration and bacteria which result in an unpleasant smell.
  • Foot odour can be a common problem even to people with good hygiene.

foot odour scholl treatments

What causes foot odour?

Foot odour is generally caused by the growth of bacteria within shoes. This bacteria generates a strong smell after decomposing sweat molecules on the surface of the feet. Since
each foot has 250,000 sweat glands[1], extreme perspiration can cause feet to smell.

What are the signs of foot odour?

As the name suggests, having a foot odour problem causes the feet to have an unpleasant smell. The feet can also feel moist or damp too.

What are the solutions for foot odour?

Various treatments are available help with foot odour. The simplest option is using mild anti-bacterial solutions or soaps[2] and then drying feet thoroughly. If you have foot odour which is
persistent and doesn’t improve with the use of anti-bacterial washes and antiperspirant spray, it is recommended that you talk to your healthcare professional.

What are the solutions for foot odour?

Try an antiperspirant spray to minimise excessive perspiration of the feet.

Maintain good feet hygiene by regularly washing and thorough drying the feet.

Perform a regular, gentle foot scrub to exfoliate and eliminate the excessive layers of dead skin cells that bacteria live on.

Consult a local podiatrist, who is a medical professional specialising in treating disorders of the feet and ankles.

How to prevent foot odour

Change shoes regularly to give each pair time to dry out and air.

If possible, wear shoes with designs that allow air to flow around the feet.

Wear socks that are made of wool and cotton materials, as nylon and polyester will likely retain moisture and may cause foot odour.

Bring an extra pair of socks to change over whenever needed.

Ensure that the dead flakes of skin will be washed off by turning the socks inside out before putting them in the washer.

Practice applying antiperspirant deodorant or foot powder to the feet.

Optimising your general foot health

A simple maintenance routine can help to keep your feet healthy and odour-free.

Daily care: Speak with your pharmacist or podiatrist if you have any concerns

Footwear: Ensure that your shoes fit properly (both in width and length) and are right for your activity

Appearance: Check the appearance of your feet regularly for any changes.

Movement and flexibility: Check that you can move your feet easily, without discomfort; some simple stretches may help

Referral: Speak with your pharmacist or podiatrist if you have any concerns

References and Sources

  1. Foot odour - causes and cures. Better Health Channel – Victorian Government.
    https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ConditionsAndTreatments/foot-odour-causes-and-cures. Date accessed: 31 Oct 2019.

  2. Sweaty, smelly hands and feet. Volume 38, No.9, September 2009 Pages 666-669. Australian Family Physician.
    https://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2009/september/sweaty,-smelly-hands-and-feet/. Date accessed: 31 Oct 2019.