reference presentation true The Foot and Ankle Knowledgebase, L.L.C., L.L.C., L.L.C. 2000 en-US Foot Odor | Causes and treatment options foot odor,smelly feet,foot stink,smelly shoes,bromhydrosis,causes of foot odor,how to stop foot odor,how to prevent foot odor,how to limit foot odor,my feet sweat and smell,why do my feet sweat,how to prevent my feet from sweating,feet smell,remove smell from shoes,information for patients with foot odor Learn more about the symptoms, causes and treatment of foot odor - part of the Foot and Ankle Knowledge Base.

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Foot odor, also called bromhydrosis, is the indirect result of excessive perspiration. The distinctive odor in the shoe is due to bacteria consuming skin cells in the presence of excessive perspiration. Foot odor can be controlled by managing excessive levels of perspiration, rotation of shoes and wearing socks.


  • Odor in shoes
  • Odor when barefoot
  • Excessive perspiration


Foot odor is the indirect result of excessive perspiration also known as hyperhydrosis.  Hyperhydrosis is a condition in which the sweat glands found on the sole of the foot are over productive resulting in excessive perspiration. Excessive perspiration of the foot is most common in adolescents and young adults. Hyperhydrosis is also more common in men than women.


Causes and contributing factors

Each of us has a set point for our body's metabolism. This set point can be compared to the thermostat in our homes. Some folks have a higher set point than others. For some, hyperhydrosis may be due to psychosomatic factors such as stress or anxiety. For others, medical conditions including hyperthyroidism and hypoadrenalism may be the primary contributing factors. But in the majority of cases of hyperhydrosis, the primary contributing factor is simply due to the fact that the set point for that individual is just set a bit too high.

Differential diagnosis

The differential diagnosis for foot odor includes;

Athlete's foot
Immersion foot
Trench foot


When treating foot odor due to hyperhydrosis, it is important to remember that this conditions will not be cured, but rather needs to be managed over time. Some of the methods used to treat foot odor are really quite simple. Try to create and environment in the shoe that is cool, dry and accessible to UV light. Try these four simple tricks;

1. Rotate your shoes every other day to allow them to dry thoroughly.
2. Avoid synthetic materials like rubber or vinyl, wear leather or cloth that can absorb moisture.
3. Frequent changes of socks to wick away moisture.
4. Use a drying agent to decrease perspiration.
5. Treat your shoes with an antibacterial/antifungal spray on a weekly basis.
6. Use an antibacterial/antifungal soap on a daily basis.

Severe cases of foot odor can be treated with Botox injections or surgery. Although a temporary solution for foot odor, Botox is used to paralyze the smooth muscle that regulates the sweat gland. And in severe cases, endoscopic excision of the dorsal root ganglion is a method used by neurosurgeons to create surgical anhydrosis (lack of sweating).


When to contact your doctor

Most cases of foot odor can be managed at home by following the suggestions in this article.  If foot odor persists, consult your podiatrist additional treatment recommendations.


Author(s) and date

Dr. Jeffrey OsterThis article was written by medical director Jeffrey A. Oster, DPM.  

Competing Interests - None

Peer Reviewed - This article is peer reviewed by an open source editorial board.  Your comments and suggestions to improve this paper are appreciated.

Cite this article as: Oster, Jeffrey. Foot Odor

Most recent article update: December 23, 2015.

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