The Causes of Smelly Feet: Bacteria and Sweaty Smelly Feet

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Causes of Smelly Feet

Bacteria are everywhere - in the air we breathe and every surface we come into contact with. They are all over your body too. Usually this is nothing to be worried about - many are benign and their presence stops other harmful bacteria from gaining a foothold.

Bacteria flourish in warm, moist places, and feet with more than 250,000 sweat glands are a perfect home. As our feet get hot, they perspire. The sweat evaporates and cools them down, but if you are wearing shoes and socks, the liquid has nowhere to go, creating a perfect environment for microbes.

Sweaty Smelly Feet

Sweat is trapped and the bacteria reproduce like crazy. The actual odor is a by-product of the bacterial metabolic processes. They ingest various salts and minerals, and excrete waste products. The main waste product that causes foot odor is isovaleric acid, which is a fatty acid. And as well know it has a penetrating smell.

The two main types of bacteria that cause smelly feet are Corynebacteria and Micrococcus:

Corynebacteria - these are Gram-positive rod-shaped bacteria that are widely found in nature. Most strains are benign but some are human pathogens such as Corynebacterium diphtheriae.

Micrococcus - these are Gram-positive and spherical-shaped. Generally benign they can be found in many places other than the human body such as in the soil, in animal and dairy products, and in water.

Smelly Feet Remedy

No matter how hard you scrub or how long you spend in the shower you will not get rid of these bacteria. They are part of the normal skin flora. But you can create the conditions that will not allow them to proliferate, and these include: -

  • Washing feet regularly will help to keep the bacterial count down
  • Let your feet breathe - when you don’t need to wear shoes and socks, take them off
  • If the pungent smells won’t go away, try deodorants
  • Change your socks frequently
  • Purchase odor eaters
  • Some people soak their feet in vinegar
  • Don’t wear the same pair of shoes on successive days. If you do the sweat builds up, which keeps your feet moist
  • Stress can cause excessive sweating, so try and chill out and put your feet up once in a while (with shoes and socks off if you can).

If, despite all these measures the problem persists, then you may have an underlying medical condition and a doctor’s advice should be sought.