Bromodosis otherwise known as 'smelly feet' is a very commonly experienced problem that is caused by sweat building up and leading to a growth of bacteria on our skin. It is the bacteria that causes the smell associated with smelly feet. Infections with fungus, such as athletes foot are another cause of bromodosis. Although this can be a very annoying condition it can be treated very quickly, easily and inexpensively. If you can clear a room every time you take your shoes off then you're not alone because this is an extremely common problem. In this blog we will talk about the causes of this type of foot odour, home remedies that can help and also the last resort of medical treatment.
It is sweat trapped in our feet they will smell. Everyday our feet create sweat from thousands of sweat glands. When this sweat builds up in socks or shoes a bad odour is produced that is called bromodosis. There are a vast amount of bacteria living on the bottom of everybody's feet. They live and survive on the sweat that is constantly produced by our feet and it is the acid produced from this process that causes our smelly feet. The fungus that grows on our feet is particularly at home in moist and warm areas and when sweat is produced inside socks and shoes the environment is perfect for fungus to move in and produce what we call ‘athlete’s foot’.
There are other things that can cause our feet to smell and those are:
Sweaty feet are not only caused by hot weather. In fact our feet sweat every single day no matter what temperature we live in. Although anybody could get smelly feet, it is estimated that there are around 10 to 15% of the population who suffer with really smelly feet. In this small section of the population it has been found that bacteria called Kyetococcus sedentarius are more prevalent and produce sulphuric compounds causing the sweat produced by the feet to take on the smell of rotten eggs.
There are some hormonal causes or links to smelly feet such as teenagers and women undergoing hormonal changes within their bodies. People who suffer from hyperhidrosis (a condition in which they sweat profusely) may also be more prone to having sweatier feet.
Sweaty feet can be exacerbated by:
It will usually be very easy to treat smelly feet at home and there are several things that you can do to try to help reduce the odour from your feet:
If the odour from your feet is very noticeable, try giving your feet a soak and a deep clean. To do this, mix up warm water and Epson salts in the quantity of half a cup. If you don't have Epson salts you can try using two parts of warm water with one part of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.
Using this solution let your feet soak for around 20 minutes once every week. When you use Epsom salt this will help to remove excessive moisture from the skin so that the environment is not as conducive to bacteria. Vinegar will also help to remove any bacteria that are on your feet, however, do not soak your feet if you have open sores or wounds on them.
As bacteria love to live in moist and warm areas, if you can keep your feet as dry as possible you will reduce the odour coming from them. Try using talcum powder in your socks and shoes to absorb any sweat or wetness and if your feet are particularly sweaty you could even try using an antiperspirant applied to the bottom of your feet. When you are at home try not to wear any shoes at all and walk around in bare feet so that fresh air can get to the skin. Try, if you can, to wear shoes that are open or sandals but if you do have to wear closed in shoes then make sure the shoes are roomy enough and not tight. If you find that your socks get very sweaty during the day then take some extra pairs with you so that you can change them frequently.
If you suffer from stinky feet then it's an extremely good idea to wash your feet every single day either in the shower or in a tub of warm water making sure to dry them very well especially in between your toes. You also need to keep your toenails trimmed and clean and remove any dead skin from your feet. These measures will make your feet less attractive to bacteria.
If you can possibly help it you should not wear the same shoes for two days together and instead you should change your shoes to allow one pair to dry out while you wash the insoles of the other pair to remove odours and make them smell more pleasant. You can also try using a disinfectant spray sprayed onto your shoes and then leave them to dry naturally so that any bacteria that are living in your shoes will be killed off.
Always ensure that the shoes you were wearing fit you well especially if you feel that your feet are being squeezed.
Once sweat is in the fabric of your footwear, bacteria will be able to grow and the smell of from bromodosis will become more noticeable.
Make sure that you change your socks each day and make sure that the socks that you use are made from materials that help keep moisture away from your feet. Surprisingly cotton socks retain moisture so choose socks that are made of polypropylene, nylon or polyester because these synthetic fibres wick moisture away.
You could also try and tackle the problem by using antibacterial powder inside your shoes before you put them on that should soak up any sweat and keep your feet drier.
For those people who have tried everything for their sweaty feet, without success, there are medical procedures that can help. One such procedure is Ionospheres is which is primarily used for excessive sweating in the feet and the hands. In this treatment hands or feet are placed in water and a low electrical current is then passed through the water. This treatment does not have any major side effects but will have to be done on a weekly basis so that lasting results can be enjoyed. Some of the complications that people may experience with this treatment include:
Botulinum toxin or Botox can be used to treat sweating that is excessive and can result in a reduction of around 88% with results apparent within a few days and lasting for many months sometimes even up to one year. Although there is no doubt that this treatment is successful, injections into the feet are quite painful and studies have shown that this type of treatment is less effective when it is used for foot sweating than it is for other types of excessive sweating such as in the armpits.
There is medication that can be prescribed for excessive foot sweating and this works by blocking the sweat from being produced. However, the drawback is that they will also interfere with the bodies natural cooling.
Other side effects of this treatment include:
If somebody who has not previously suffered from smelly feet experiences an episode of bromodosis, the first step should be inspection of their feet to ensure that they have no cuts or sores that have become infected. This can be done by placing a mirror on the floor and inspecting the bottom of the feet. If any redness, streaks of red or swelling is noticed then they should book a private GP appointment with us immediately especially if they are diabetic because more serious complications could result from untreated infection.
If there are no signs of any wounds then over the counter remedies should help but if the patient becomes self-conscious or embarrassed by a problem that is quite severe then they should consult a doctor.
Most of us will at one time or another suffer from smelly feet, usually due to the footwear we have chosen. The remedies that we have mentioned in this blog should help in most cases but if the situation worsens or is very embarrassing it is always worth seeking a medical opinion.