Can smelly feet indicate a health problem?

A fellow caregiver asked...

Are chronically smelly feet a sign of a more serious health issue?

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Chronically smelly feet can be caused by many problems, including hyperhydrosis (excess sweat), fungal infections, or stress, to name a few. Keep in mind that your feet have more sweat glands then anywhere else in the body, and they are usually trapped all day with no air ventilation in shoes. To try and reduce foot odor, try these simple steps:

1) Bathe feet every day with soap and water. Dry them well, especially in between the toes, to reduce moisture. 2) Change your socks daily. Wear thicker socks, as they will absorb more moisture. 3) By an over the counter foot powder, and use that daily. Sprinkle it over the foot, and in between the toes. This will help absorb excess moisture. 4) Frequently rotate your footwear. If you wear the same shoes every day, they might not get a chance to dry/air out. If you do use the same shoes, get a new pair frequently.

If simple foot hygiene does not help, then please see a podiatrist. They can often help with reducing foot odor by giving medications and topical creams.