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We have two million to four million sweat glands all over our body. Of these, the maximum number is found in our feet. Our sweat glands release sweat all day long, to regulate our body temperature and keep our skin moist and supple. In some cases, this sweat gets trapped and leads to smelly feet.

Smelly feet can be an embarrassing condition. People with smelly feet cannot remove their shoes in public as the smell is strongly offensive. 

The smell of the feet can be due to the sweat getting trapped in the shoes and socks, poor hygiene of the feet or some medical conditions like hyperhidrosis and pitted keratolysis.

Smelly feet can be prevented by cleaning and washing your feet daily, changing socks on a regular basis and avoiding ill-fitted tight shoes. 

Treatment of smelly feet can be done at home until the cause is a disease which needs medical attention. Treatments like antifungal sprays, gels, botox injections and iontophoresis are used to treat bromodosis medically.

  1. Bromodosis or smelly feet symptoms
  2. What causes smelly feet or bromodosis?
  3. Prevention of bromodosis (smelly feet)
  4. Treatment of bromodosis (smelly feet)
  5. Doctors for Bromodosis (Smelly Feet)

Bromodosis or smelly feet symptoms

The symptoms of bromodosis are: 

  • Damp feet
  • Strongly offensive smell from the feet
  • Cheesy smelling feet
  • White pitted feet (the feet get white patches and tiny depressions appear in the skin where bacterial infection has occurred)
  • Soggy soles of the feet

What causes smelly feet or bromodosis?

A person can have smelly feet due to any of the following reasons:

  • Trapped sweat: In the case of people who wear socks and shoes throughout the day, the sweat produced by their glands increases. The socks and shoes also prevent the evaporation of the excess sweat, which makes the skin damp. The damp and dark condition of the feet provides an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria and fungus. Once the fungus start growing, it breaks down the drops of sweat and that is when the feet start smelling.
  • Poor hygiene: People who do not change their socks on a regular basis or do not wash their feet frequently can have smelly feet.
  • Hyperhidrosis: This is a medical condition in which there is an excess amount of sweat released from the body. People who have hyperhidrosis can have smelly feet.
  • Pitted keratolysis: Pitted keratolysis is a condition in which bacteria eat the flesh of the feet, leaving white pitted skin which smells cheesy.

Prevention of bromodosis (smelly feet)

These are some tried-and-tested ways to reduce foot smell and even prevent conditions like fungal infections of the foot in future:

  • Keeping the feet clean can help in preventing the condition. You can wash your feet daily with mild soap and a scrubbing brush. After washing, pat-dry the feet with a towel and make sure that the spaces between the toes are completely dry.
  • Cut your toenails short as it prevents the accumulation of dirt and keeps the feet clean. 
  • While bathing, always check the soles of your feet. If you find any dead and hard skin, remove it with the help of a foot file. This will prevent the accumulation of bacteria on the hard skin which becomes soggy due to sweat. 
  • Do not repeat your socks, change them at least once a day. You can also wear socks which are specially made to absorb moisture and sweat.
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitted shoes, as they don't allow the extra sweat to evaporate.
  • Wear a different pair of shoes every day as it allows time for the insides of the shoes to dry out completely before your wear them again. 
  • Do not wear shoes made of synthetic material. Rather buy shoes made of leather, canvas or mesh.
  • You can wear shoes which provide air to the feet like the open-toed sandals in summer.

Read more: How to get rid of feet odour

Treatment of bromodosis (smelly feet)

There are certain basic treatments that can help in relieving foot smell at home:

  • You can put a medical spirit on a piece of cotton and dab it on your feet every night before going to bed. Do not use the spirit if you have any cracks on your feet. 
  • You can use medicated insoles, which act as antiperspirants and are placed inside your shoes.
  • The antiperspirant sprays used for underarms can also be used on the feet.

There are some medical treatments that can help in resolving smelly feet:

  • Your doctor may give you an antifungal spray or gel for your feet to stop the growth of fungus on the damp feet. You can also buy antifungal and antibacterial soaps to wash your feet.
  • Iontophoresis, a medical procedure which helps in blocking the sweat glands, may be done to reduce the amount of sweat produced. In this procedure, the person is asked to dip their feet in a bowl full of water and a weak electric current is passed through the water.
  • Botox: Injections of botulinum toxin (Botox) are given directly into the feet to block the signals from the brain which commands the sweat glands to produce excessive sweat.
Dr. Vineet Kumar

Dr. Vineet Kumar


Dr. Sakshi Supehia

Dr. Sakshi Supehia


Dr. Kunj Bihari

Dr. Kunj Bihari


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