A Dermatologist Shoots Straight on How to Stop Smelly Feet

When a dermatologist shoots straight on how to stop smelly feet, you can trust that the advice is solid, sound, and no-nonsense.

DIY pedicure for soft smooth feet



Dr. Jo Herzog is not only my personal dermatologist but also a sought after speaker and consultant. As a Family Savvy expert contributor, she takes time to answer questions from readers. Today’s topic is one many of us are all too familiar with~smelly feet.

Question: Dear Dr. Herzog, one of my children has feet that smell so bad we can hardly stand for her to take off her shoes.  We’ve tried washing her feet with deodorant soap, but this hasn’t helped. Thanks in advance for any advice you can give us.

Answer: from Dr. Jo Herzog

Dr. Jo Herzog dermatologist Family SavvyBromhidrosis is the medical term for smelly sweat. When this condition manifests on the feet, it results in what most people refer to as smelly or stinky feet.

Smelly feet can be a big embarrassment to those who have them. Some patients will not take off their shoes for a complete skin exam. Some kids are made fun of by their siblings and peers. Foot odor can range from a mild, musty smell to that of old, strong smelling cheese. If this is a problem that you or a loved one struggles with, it is no laughing matter.

Smelly feet with a mild odor are often the result of sweating and moisture, while a stronger odor probably involves the presence of some bacteria. Certain foods and spices, some medications, and certain types of shoes and socks can all contribute to the problem. Basically, the path to stopping smelly feet is as follows.

How to Stop Smelly Feet: A Two Pronged Approach

Step 1: Decrease wetness and keep feet cool and dry. There are several ways to do this.

  • Wicking sweat away from them with cotton socks.
  • Wearing open or fabric shoes that allow feet to breathe.
  • Going barefoot when possible.
  • Applying clinical strength antiperspirants (like Certain Dri) or prescription antiperspirants (Drysol) to the feet before bedtime. These take about two weeks to begin working, and they can be irritating.
  •  Taking some medications such as robinol, can help.
  • Having Botox and Dysport injected into the affected areas. These drugs work wonders for excessive sweating but need to be injected every three to six months.

Step 2: Eliminate bacteria on the feet that could be causing the issue. There are a few ways to do this.

  • Bleach Bath: (1/4 cup bleach to 1/2 tub of water)
  • Vinegar Soak: (1/4 vinegar to 3/4 water)
  • Topical antibiotic (prescription) such as clindamycin lotion can be applied daily to help kill bacteria.

If you follow the steps listed above you should be on your way to feet that feel and smell better. If the problem persists, you might want consult with a doctor to check for an underlying issue. Hope this helps. Here’s to happy, fresh, odor free feet.

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