Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

What Is Bromodosis Or Smelly Feet?

Bromodosis or Smelly Feet is a common but quite an embarrassing problem for many people all over the world although not many people pay close attention to it, as they feel that the smell of their feet will stay contained in the shoes and will not come out and thus will not be a source of embarrassment for them, although ultimately when they get home or in certain situations where they have to take their shoes off in public places then they feel embarrassed at the smell which comes out from their feet. Bromodosis or Smelly Feet is usually caused due to excessive sweating of the feet which is most of the time constrained inside shoes and socks and due to constant rubbing of the socks on the foot causes friction and heat which results in sweat coming out from the feet, especially in dry and hot weather conditions. Some of this sweat is absorbed by the sock and due to the sock being inside the shoe it is not able to dry up which results in a foul odor emanating from the socks and feet causing what we call as Bromodosis or Smelly Feet.

Bromodosis Or Smelly Feet: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Why Do Feet Sweat Causing Bromodosis Or Smelly Feet?

Now one question that comes to mind is that whether sweating is limited to a few people or does everyone sweats to the same degree, especially in the feet. The answer to this is that sweating is common to all and anyone can have sweaty feet but it is seen that pregnant females and teenagers who undergo constant hormonal changes tend to sweat a bit more than normal population making them prone to Bromodosis or Smelly Feet more than others. People who stay on their feet all day also come under the category of people who sweat more as their whole body weight is concentrated on their feet which causes that much more pressure on the heels and foot causing them to sweat more as they are constrained in footwear. Excessive stress and a medical condition called as hyperhidrosis can also cause an individual to have excessive sweating especially in the feet which is soaked into the socks causing Bromodosis or Smelly Feet.

What Are The Causes Of Bromodosis Or Smelly Feet?

As stated above, Bromodosis or Smelly Feet is normally caused by excessive sweating. Although the sweat itself does not have any odor to it, it provides a feasible environment for bacteria to grow. These bacteria react with the sweat and releases gasses which cause Bromodosis or Smelly Feet. Some of the common bacteria which are responsible for Bromodosis or Smelly Feet are Brevibacteria, Propionibacteria and Staphylococcus epidermidis. These bacteria are more active in the summer season when sweating is even more excessive because of the high temperatures. Some of the other causes of Bromodosis or Smelly Feet are:

Hygiene related issues causing accumulation of sweat and bacteria like not changing socks daily, no washing sports shoes on a regular basis, no washing feet thoroughly after coming home and removing the footwear, using nylon socks which are incapable of absorbing sweat, using plastic coated shoes which make the foot more constrained. There are also certain infections which can cause Bromodosis or Smelly Feet. These infections are:

  • Ringworm infection, which is a fungal infection usually affecting the area between the toes
  • Ulcers and other bacterial infections, which are mostly seen in diabetics

What Are The Symptoms Of Bromodosis Or Smelly Feet?

A foul odor when removing your shoes and socks itself is a give away symptom of Bromodosis or Smelly Feet. In some cases, the foul odor may even be present when the shoes are worn. The odor may vary in its type. When examining the feet closely, you may observe presence of ringworm infection.

How Is Bromodosis Or Smelly Feet Treated?

Proper hygiene is the key to treating Bromodosis or Smelly Feet. Additionally, certain topical or oral agents may also be used for treating Bromodosis or Smelly Feet. Some of the ways to treat Bromodosis or Smelly Feet are:

  • Zinc powder: This has antibacterial and antifungal effects, and helps in reducing sweating and hence treating Bromodosis or Smelly Feet
  • Aluminum Salts: Using aluminium salts is also effective as it has properties which tend to reduce sweating and thus cutting down Bromodosis or Smelly Feet.
  • Medications: There are certain antibacterial medications which can be prescribed in case if Bromodosis or Smelly Feet is caused by a bacterial infection. These medications are clindamycin, erythromycin, or benzoyl peroxide
  • Iontophoresis: This is a procedure which is done to treat excessive sweating and is quite effective in treating Bromodosis or Smelly Feet.

In some cases botox injections have also been used for reducing sweating in order to treat Bromodosis or Smelly Feet

How Can Bromodosis Or Smelly Feet Be Prevented?

Some of the ways to prevent Bromodosis or Smelly Feet are:

  • Try and avoid wearing the same pair of socks for consecutive days without washing them. If possible, have at least two pair of shoes so that you can change them everyday so that they are completely dry when you wear them.
  • Wash and dry your feet thoroughly after coming home from work so hat all the bacteria and sweat that may have accumulated throughout the day are washed off and thus preventing any chances of Bromodosis or Smelly Feet.
  • If you have any hard skin around the foot then it is better to remove it as this hard skin can become soggy and damp and be an ideal breeding ground for bacteria
  • In case of you are prone to excessive sweating then it is advisable to use a deodorant or spray to the toes to prevent it from smelling
  • Try and avoid wearing plastic shoes and wear leather shoes as these shoes give the feet more air to breathe causing less sweating and hence preventing Bromodosis or Smelly Feet.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: August 14, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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