Foot Odor

Feet with foot odor

Foot odor can be an immensely embarrassing condition when you are forced to remove footwear in a social situation which allows others to smell the odor of your feet.

Many people suffering from the problem of stinky feet.

As with other “smelly” conditions, such as body odor and bad breath, bad foot odor is composed of volatile organic compounds.

Being “volatile” in the chemical sense means that a chemical compound or molecule easily becomes a gas or vapor.

The heat produced by feet contained inside of footwear helps volatile compounds to form into a gas.

Two major components important for the production of unpleasant foot odor are sweat and bacteria.

A 2006 study titled “Foot odor due to microbial metabolism and its control” and published in The Canadian Journal of Microbiology found the following:

“Foot odor was found to be derived from isovaleric acid, which is produced when Staphylococcus epidermidis, a resident species of the normal cutaneous microbial flora, degrades leucine present in sweat. In addition, Bacillus subtilis was detected in the plantar skin of subjects with strong foot odor, and this species was shown to be closely associated with increased foot odor.”

Butane‐2,3‐dione is a chemical found by Takeshi Hara et al. to be a major component of stinky feet and smelly armpits.  Their findings were reported in the journal Chemistry & Biodiversity in February 2015.

Based on the information above we can see that one of the absolute best methods of stopping foot odor is regularly washing the feet very well with soap and water.  Soap and water removes sweat, bacteria and chemicals formed on the feet by the bacteria.

Regularly washing along with changing socks regularly will eliminate most cases of noxious foot odor.

Treatments for stinky feet include:

  • regularly washing the feet well with soap and water (this removes sweat and bacteria)
  • wearing absorbent socks to wick sweat away
  • changing socks often
  • wearing footwear that allows airflow (breathable)
  • using antiperspirants on the feet (e.g. regular aluminum antiperspirants or Drysol)
  • using topical antibiotics on the feet (erythromycin or clindamycin)
  • using anti-acne medication on the feet (benzoyl peroxide)
  • applying tea tree oil to the feet or soaking the feet in a tea tree oil bath

You may also wish to learn about body odor or learn about bad breath.