Foot odour is a common problem, caused by excessive perspiration and the growth of bacteria on the feet. Even the most fastidiously clean people can suffer from foot odour. There is a range of simple treatments available to address this problem.

Feet are a breeding ground for bacteria

Each foot has 250,000 sweat glands and produces about a cup (500 ml) of sweat daily. Excessive perspiration, combined with bacteria, can cause offensive foot odour. The bacteria that grow on the soles of feet actually produce gases similar to those released by bacteria used in producing cheese; hence the name 'cheesy feet'.

Treating the condition

The following treatments may be useful, depending on the cause of the problem:

  • Topical (applied to the skin) or oral (by mouth) antibiotics may be prescribed, in severe cases, to kill off the bacteria.
  • Mild antiseptic solutions or soaps can be useful.
  • Light powders can help to absorb some of the moisture on the sole of the foot.
  • Methylated spirits applied once or twice a day can help dry the skin.
  • Avoid synthetic socks and wear shoes that allow good air circulation and allow the foot to breathe (leather is good).
  • Change your shoes regularly to allow them to dry and air.

If these treatments fail, contact a podiatrist.

Where to get help

  • Local podiatrist
  • Your doctor
  • Community health centre
  • Australian Podiatry Association (Vic) - Tel. (03) 9866 5906.

Things to remember

  • Foot odour is a common problem.
  • There are many treatments available, depending on the cause of the problem.

 

 
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