• Smelly feet can cause esteem issues as they are viewed as embarrassing and unhygienic

• Smelly feet are treatable and manageable 

wearing shows without socks
A picture of a jogger wearing shows without socks
Image: Courtesy

Smelly feet are actually more common than people think.

It's usually caused by a build-up of sweat over an enclosed area, which results in bacteria growth on the skin.

They can be beyond embarrassing as the stench repels people and most end up questioning your personal hygenie.

Bacteria are collected in shoes, socks, and on the skin as well, this bacteria multiplies as it feeds on the dead skin cells and oils on your feet. As it breaks down, it releases a smelly odour

Fungal infections like athletes' feet can also cause smelly feet.

Although it's a common condition, it can make one feel self-conscious, good news is that smelly feet are easy, inexpensive, and quick to treat.


Your feet have more sweat glands than any other part of the body.

These glands produce sweat throughout the day to keep your body cool and skin moist.

But teenagers and pregnant women tend to sweat more because their bodies produce excess hormones.

The feet naturally have some bacteria which break down the sweat as it is produced. If bacteria and sweat build-up, a foul odour can form.

Extra bacteria tend to form when one sweats in their shoes, takes them off, and puts them back on without allowing them to dry properly.

Infrequent foot washing and not changing your socks can also cause extra bacteria to form, which causes the odour to worsen.


Use a mild soap and scrub brush to wash your feet at least once a day, then dry your feet thoroughly, paying special attention to in between your toes.

Remove hard, dead skin from your feet with a foot file. Hard skin gets soggy and soft when it's wet creating a place for bacteria to thrive in.

Change your socks at least once a day, especially if you have hyperhidrosis. This is a condition where one tends to abnormally sweat a lot, even in low temperatures.

Wash your socks properly and make sure they are completely dry before wearing them.

Have two or more pairs of shoes that you alternate wearing.

This allows each pair to thoroughly dry out before being worn again. Remove the insoles in your shoes to help them dry and air better, as wet shoes allow bacteria to grow on your feet more quickly.

If you need to quickly take care of your foot odour, it is safe to apply either: talcum powder, antiperspirant or deodorant spray to your feet

If the athlete's foot is what is causing your odour, get anti-fungal foot spray/cream or a medicated foot powder and apply once daily or as prescribed.

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