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Smelly feet

Smelly feet (bromodosis) are common and often caused by a build-up of sweat and bacteria. You can usually treat them yourself.

How to treat and prevent smelly feet yourself

Always keep your feet clean and dry, including between your toes.

Do

  • wash your feet at least once a day (use an antibacterial soap if you can)

  • remove hard skin with a foot file and keep toenails short and clean

  • use foot powder or an antiperspirant

  • wear breathable or natural fabrics on your feet, like cotton or leather

  • let shoes dry out before wearing them again

Don’t

  • do not wear the same socks or shoes 2 days in a row

  • do not wear tight shoes

  • do not walk around barefoot in public or communal places that are wet, like swimming pools and showers in gyms

A pharmacist can help with smelly feet

You can ask a pharmacist about:

  • antibacterial soaps, powders, and creams
  • special foot deodorant
  • medicated insoles for your shoes
  • antibacterial socks

Causes of smelly feet

The main causes of smelly feet are a build-up of sweat and bacteria on them and fungal infections like athlete's foot.

The amount you sweat can be affected by:

  • hot weather
  • exercise
  • standing all day
  • being overweight
  • hormonal changes, which happen during puberty, menopause and pregnancy
  • some medicines, such as antidepressants
  • a condition that causes excessive sweating called hyperhidrosis

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • your smelly feet have not got better after treating them yourself
  • your smelly feet are affecting your daily life

Medical teatments for smelly feet

Treatment for smelly feet depends on the cause.

If your smelly feet are caused by a fungal infection, a GP might prescribe a stronger antifungal treatment to clear it up.

If the cause is sweating, they might suggest a stronger antiperspirant or treatment to reduce sweating.

A treatment called iontophoresis may help with sweating, which involves passing a weak electrical current through the affected areas.

A GP might also suggest you see a foot specialist (podiatrist) if your footcare problems do not clear up quickly.

Page last reviewed: 01 February 2022
Next review due: 01 February 2025