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How to Deal With Horrible Foot Odor

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Ruby Anne Hornillos · Updated Nov 20, 2022

    How to Deal With Horrible Foot Odor

    Are you having problems with horrible foot odor? It can be embarrassing and worrying. What are the smelly feet causes and what can you do to deal with them? 

    What Causes Foot Odor?

    Foot odor is a common health problem, and the actual medical term for smelly feet is bromodosis. It is caused by excessive sweating and bacteria build-up. While it happens often because of bad hygiene, even people who are very clean in their habits can also develop smelly feet. 

    Sweat and bacteria

    First of all, your feet are ideal places for breeding bacteria. Each foot has more than 250,000 sweat glands. These glands can produce a cup of sweat each day. And when you wear shoes that trap sweat inside, this moisture-rich environment becomes a rich breeding ground for bacteria.


    However, it is not just bacteria that can cause smelly feet. Fungal infections like athlete’s foot can also cause it. It is also a condition that is quite common. 

    Although it can be very unpleasant, smelly feet are usually caused by non-serious issues that can be treated easily. There are plenty of home remedies for foot fungus and odor, for example. If you want something more direct and effective, ask your dermatologist for prescription medicines and stronger ointments that you can use.

    How to Prevent and Treat Horrible Foot Odor

    The good news for you is that there are plenty of ways that you can prevent and treat smelly feet. Here are some of the easier methods that you can use:

    Practice good foot hygiene

    The best and easiest way to prevent athlete’s foot and other conditions that lead to bromodosis are to keep your feet clean. Use mild soap to thoroughly clean your feet. The best time to do that would be during your bath time. Just as important as washing your feet thoroughly is completely drying them properly.  Make sure that the spaces in between the toes are thoroughly dried to prevent bacterial and fungal growth. 

    Have you noticed how the dead skin on your feet turns hard? When your feet get wet, it becomes soggy, which makes it easy for bacteria or fungi to swoop in and thrive. Remove the dead skin from your feet using a file or scrub it off when you are taking a shower.

    Try a foot bath

    You can also make your own foot soak using mouthwash or even vinegar, which you can mix with water.

    Get pedicures

    Make sure that you clip your toenails short so that there is no chance for dirt to build up under them. They can become breeding ground for fungus and bacteria, too.

    Wear appropriate socks

    Change your socks daily even if it seems like it is still clean or it does not yet have a bad smell. The sweat has dried on the socks and it could be very easy for your feet to get infected. If you live in a hot environment or if you are doing a lot of physical activity, then you should change it more often.

    Use the kind of socks that absorb sweat so your feet are not soaked the entire time that you are wearing shoes.

    Give your shoes a break

    Do not wear the same shoes daily. Wearing the same pair of shoes each day means that it does not have enough time to dry from all the sweat of wearing it. Also, avoid wearing shoes that are too tight or those that retain moisture.

    Try deodorant for feet

    There are deodorant insoles that you can use. These insoles are very effective when it comes to fighting foot odor from developing.

    Use antifungal ointments

    If you have developed athlete’s foot already, you can use antifungal soap or you can buy over-the-counter. Seek the advice of your doctor for which best suits your condition. 

    horrible foot odor

    What Does Athlete’s Foot Smell Like?

    Athlete’s Foot causes a very unpleasant odor, and it can be so strong that other people around you can smell it too. This condition is fairly common so you can find commercially available soaps and ointments that can help you deal with horrible foot odor. 

    Smelly Feet and Cancer: Is There a Connection?

    Keep in mind that sudden changes in the smell of your body can also be indicative of an underlying condition. Very rarely will smelly feet and cancer be connected and in those cases that they are, there is a wound that is causing the odor. But other conditions can also lead to sudden changes in the smell of the body.

    The smell of your body has something to do with the food that you eat as well. If you experience a sudden change in the way you smell, consult a doctor.

    Key Takeaways

    Having smelly feet may not be a serious or a life-threatening condition, but that does not mean it does not deserve your attention. Have it treated right away and say goodbye to horrible foot odor. It can be a very embarrassing condition that may cause anxiety and disrupt your normal activities. The good news is that it is relatively easy to cure.

    Like with other conditions though, bromodosis is easier to prevent. With the right hygienic practices, you need not worry about developing smelly feet.

    Learn more about Healthy Lifestyle here. 


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


    Written by Ruby Anne Hornillos · Updated Nov 20, 2022

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