How can I control my foot odor?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Following these strategies can help control foot odor:

  • Bathe regularly, washing your feet well with mild soap. Dry thoroughly, since odor-causing bacteria love moisture.
  • Always wear clean socks, preferably made of cotton or wool. Or look for athletic socks made from fibers that absorb sweat and allow the skin on your feet to breathe. 
  • Alternate your shoes. Wearing shoes two days in a row doesn't allow bacteria-building sweat to dry.
  • Use disinfectant spray to kill bacteria in your shoes.

Foot odor is commonly caused by sweating, which leads to skin maceration and subsequent bacterial degradation of keratin. Foot odor is a medical condition known as eccrine bromhidrosis. The treatment of localized bromhidrosis focuses on improving hygiene and reducing bacteria and sweating in the affected area.

To control your foot odor you must start by maintaining good foot hygiene, like regularly washing your feet and cleaning your footwear and clothing.

Foot odor can be related to a number of things. If the problem persists, it can be a sign of a fungal or other infection.

Dr. Susan Evans
Dermatologist (Skin Specialist)

How to Control Foot Odor

  • Keep your feet as clean and as dry as possible
  • After bathing, make certain you dry your feet completely
  • Use foot powder to help absorb sweat throughout the day
  • Always put on clean, dry socks if you must wear shoes, and consider changing your shoes throughout the day if you possibly can
  • Wear natural fibers for your socks: cotton, linen, silk and wool
  • Rotate shoes to keep them as dry as possible. Shoes don’t usually dry out overnight, so wear different shoes at least every day.
  • Whenever possible, air your feet by going barefoot or wearing sandals
  • Many natural healers recommend using tea tree oil to help with foot odor. Always get professional advice from a naturopathic physician before using.

If odor is persistent, it may be possible that bacteria have invaded your shoes. In which case, it might be time to throw these shoes away. Then follow the above tips to prevent and treat foot odor. If this does not manage the smell, it might be time to go to your doctor for help. Your doctor can prescribe a strong antiperspirant that is typically applied before bed and washed off in the morning.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.