Why Your Feet Smell & How To Fix It

by Isadora Baum, CHC

Having feet that sometimes smell bad may be part of life — but it certainly isnt' fun, and especially if you can't seem to get rid of the smell. Knowing how to get rid of smelly feet can be helpful, as bad odors can alienate others (your SO probably doesn't want to give you a foot massage late at night), and just make you feel gross overall. Sometimes smelly feet can also signify a bacterial growth or some other foot condition that might need more immediate care or medical attention, so keeping tabs on your feet's odors can help in the long run.

As a certified health coach, I work with clients on boosting and maintaining their hygienic practices to feel more confident, cleaner, and odor free. Of course, after a tough workout session, it's natural to be sweaty and to stink a little bit (that's what showers are for); however, if your feet are smelling very strong on a chronic basis, it might be more troublesome and could require further inquiry into what's really going on. Here are 11 reasons that your feet might stink and a few helpful tips in getting rid of the smell for good.

1. You Work Out All The Time

There's nothing wrong with working out. Actually, it's awesome that you do. Getting in an exercise class or session on a regular basis will boost your health and happiness, advises Dr. Lisa Ashe, Medical Director of BeWell Medicine, over email with Bustle. However, "your feet smell because they sweat, and in an enclosed environment that's wet, they attract fungal and bacterial infection," warns Ashe. Take a shower, change your socks, and get out of those stinky sneakers post-workout.

2. Your Hormones Are Whacky

Ashe says that a change in hormones can lead to sweating, body odors, and other bodily changes, as your body tries to cope with the new swings. Pay attention to how you're feeling in other areas of your life and your physicality. Also, it's worth noting changes in your menstrual cycle that can contribute.

3. You're Stressed

Ashe says that when you're under more stress, you're likely to sweat more, and this may lead to stinkier feet and body odors. If you're working on tough deadlines or are dealing with emotional issues, for instance, it might lead to greater stenches. This will probably get better as you manage your stress.

4. You're Pregnant

Ashe says that if you're pregnant, you might be under greater stress or have more hormonal changes that can lead to excessive sweating, especially in your feet, as also explained by experts at WebMD. This is natural and not worrisome, but will make you a bit smellier than usual. Try massaging feet with nice scented lotion to cover it up.

5. You Repeat Socks

Ashe cautions against re-wearing dirty clothing, especially socks, as they can be filled with sweat and bacteria that will lead to gross odors. Ashe recommends changing your socks daily, or even a few times day if you're exercising in between wears.

6. You Forget To Trim Your Toenails

Long toe nails can lead to built up fungus and bacteria, which can get super smelly, advises Ashe. To resolve this issue and prevent smelly odors, trim your toenails regularly and make sure they're properly cleaned. You can also wash with antibacterial soap, advises Ashe.

7. You Wear The Same Shoes Each Day

While you might really love your black leather boots (why wouldn't you?), or only have one pair of sneakers, wearing the same shoes each day can lead to gross smells from inside your shoe that then stay on your bare feet, explained Alex Kor, DPM, a staff podiatrist at Johns Hopkins Medicine and president of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine over interview with Prevention. Invest in another pair of sneakers and alternate between sessions.

8. You Don't Take Care Of Your Shoes

If shoes aren't taken care of, they can get dirty and stink, advises Ashe. To prevent bad odors, Ashe recommends spraying the inside of shoes with antifungal spray or using baking soda to lightly coat the interior. These tricks will keep your shoes smelling fresh (or at least fresher than they would be).

9. You Eat A Lot Of Food That Lacks Nutrients

"One reason is from eating too much junk food. Let's face it, junk food is smelly so of course our body is going to smell and it typically ends up in the bottom of our body at our feet," says author and health food chef Liana Werner Gray over email with Bustle. "Junk food creates a toxic build up in the body which can be smelly. Eating cleaner foods naturally smells sweeter leaving a better scent in our body," says Gray.

10. You Have Poor Circulation

"Another reason is there is not enough circulation in the body to keep the stench from moving," says Gray. "Ways to improve circulation are: 2 minutes on the rebounder in the morning, sweating by doing cardio exercise or sauna," recommends Gray.

11. You Have Bromhidrosis

According to Dr. Axe on his website, you might have excessive sweating from birth, as a genetic, predisposed condition called bromhidrosis. If this is the case (you can get tested by a podiatrist), taking self-care measures to ensure proper hygiene will help manage the symptoms.

If any of these factors apply to you, consider checking with a doctor to rule out a health condition or to seek advice on holistic remedies that will help manage the sweating and odors.

Images: Pixabay (12)