Problems tackled: 43,462

Smelly feet

The reason for smelly feet is that feet naturally sweat, and bacteria work on the sweat to produce smelly fatty acids. As well, fungi that cause 'athlete's foot' like to grow in warm, moist areas (such as between the toes) and this can add to the cheesy smell.

What you can do about smelly feet

  • Because the smell is caused by bacteria in the sweat, look at all the advice in our section on sweaty feet
  • Check between your toes. If the he skin between the toes looks red and soggy you probably have the fungal infection athlete’s foot. Buy an antifungal foot spray, which is more effective than antifungal foot powders. Keep using the spray for 10 days after the symptoms have gone. If the problem persists, see your doctor.
  • Check your socks. Make sure they are not too tight, and change them every day. Socks that are 60–70% wool combined with 40–30% manmade fibre are best. All-cotton socks can be problematic because they do not hold as much moisture without becoming sodden, and all-wool socks become clammy.
  • Consider your shoes. Avoid wearing trainers for long periods; trainers are insulating and synthetic – ideal conditions for cheesy feet.  Buy some washable insoles for your shoes, and wash them every day. Every couple of weeks, use the nozzle of a vacuum cleaner to clean the inside of your shoes to remove dried old sweat. You can also wipe the inside of your shoes with surgical spirit, which you can buy from a pharmacy. If possible, avoid wearing the same shoes two days in a row; allow them to dry out properly.
  • Consider a foot deodorant, which you can buy from pharmacies. Some contain an antibacterial chemical to discourage the bacteria that cause the smell.

Written by: Dr Margaret Stearn
Edited by: Dr Margaret Stearn
Last updated: Wednesday, May 1st 2013


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Comments on this article

Posted by Optional on 12/08/2015 at 09:12

This post is detailed and close to the point. Yet, I think there are still some other natural tips to stop sweaty feet, like using baking soda, black tea... that I found in this article anyway, this is a helpful post for people with sweaty feet. Thanks

Posted by Optional on 03/12/2014 at 12:43

i have a small white thing between my little foot finger that is smelly and smell so bad n i always wear boots or trainy shoe what must i do to prevent or cure this gangrene sort of disease

Posted by Optional on 11/02/2014 at 09:51

Hi i have tried everything but nothing is helping me i need to stop my feet from sweating and smelling it is affecting my life and i di not know what to do

Posted by Greg on 04/12/2013 at 05:19

Lavilin is a great all-natural foot deodorant that kills foot odors very effectively. It's a cream that you apply to the balls of your feet. Long-lasting too - up to 7 days.

Posted by Aaliyah on 13/02/2013 at 11:14

my daughters toe nails are turning yellow and I need a vice how to make it better

Posted by First time foot odor on 09/07/2012 at 09:19

I recently went overseas. I ran out of clean socks and had to use socks twice on a couple days. When i got back I could not believe the smell. I have never had this. New shoes and tinactin -- problem solved.

Posted by Optional on 10/01/2012 at 11:34

Hi, my feet stink. I am really embarassed. My house mates always moan when I enter the room, I do not daretake of my shoes. Once, my dog passed out cause they smelt so strong. I try to hide it from potential boy friends but when it comes to getting to it they are turned off by the smell. Help? GL

Posted by nb on 02/03/2011 at 01:55

my feet sweat horribly and the more they sweat the more they stink. i found that getting pedicures regularly helps. they are not only for getting your nails painted! they SCRUB your feet and massage them which gets the blood flowing. also - for inbetween pedi's it helps to keep a pummice stone in the shower so you can get all the dead skin off and allow your feet to breathe. just a suggestion from someone who has struggled with this problem for years! but, alas, what works for me might not work for everyone. good luck!

Posted by yasmin on 10/12/2010 at 01:38

thanks for your help on the info about smelly feet it help a lot for my project.

Posted by help me on 01/04/2010 at 07:40

My feet smell bad and they are sweaty. When I wash them my hands smell too. I used to use clearasil facial scrub but it rubbed my skin off badly. My shoes smell when I take them off. I am embaressed about going to the beach as they are so crowded someone I know is bound to notice.


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