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Foot Odor (Bromhidrosis)

FootSmart Health Facts from The Podiatry Institute 
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Does a strange, unpleasant smell find its way to your nostrils seconds after your shoes come off? Do you notice others wrinkling their noses in disgust when confronted with your bare or shoeless feet? If taking off your shoes clears a room, you may be suffering from a condition known as bromhidrosis.

Perspiration is normal and healthy, but when it becomes excessive, it can leave a foul foot odor lingering on feet and in your shoes that's especially noticeable when you take them off. Most people's feet will likely perspire during exercise or in warm weather; if you have bromhidrosis, however, you'll notice excessive sweating and smelly feet year round, even when you are not engaged in strenuous activity.

Causes:
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One of the top causes of foot odor is excessive perspiration (hyperhidrosis) and moisture, which provides a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast. When sweat and cellular debris from the bacteria and yeast begin to break down, you'll notice a fetid foot odor emanating from the direction of your feet. Since bromhidrosis creates an environment for the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungus, infections such as athlete's foot or toenail fungus may soon follow.

Additional common causes of foot odor include:

  • Excessive anxiety
  • Various skin conditions

If a particular health condition is causing your excessive sweating, you may also notice that you have sweaty palms, excessive perspiration under your arms and in your groin area.

In turn, excessive sweating can indicate the presence of other health conditions more serious than foot odor, so it is always good to discuss the problem with your physician.

Relief and Prevention:
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The most important way to relieve bromhidrosis is to keep your feet clean and dry.

  • Shower regularly with anti-bacterial soap.
  • Use foot powders and sprays specifically designed to
    keep feet dry.
  • Change your shoes and socks often.
  • Rotate your shoes (especially athletic shoes).
  • Use insoles that can be changed frequently to prevent the
    odor from staying in your shoe.
  • Wear sandals during warm weather.
  • Launder, disinfect or discard foul smelling shoes.

If foot odor persists, and excessive sweating also becomes a problem in other areas of your body, please consult a physician.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your health care provider on all matters relating to this or any other condition that may affect your health.

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