Our feet sweat because of heat and exercise, as well as stress. With other areas of the body, sweat can easily evaporate, but with feet it gets trapped between our toes and in socks and shoes. When sweat gets trapped, the bacteria that feed on our sweat release an unpleasant smell, causing foot odour or smelly feet, also known as bromodosis. This continues after we’ve removed our socks and shoes, especially if we put them in a dark place like a cupboard or drawer, where they can thrive.
Do some people's feet sweat more than others?
Some people’s feet naturally sweat more than others, but it doesn’t cause them any problems or discomfort. Changes during puberty, pregnancy and the menopause can also increase foot sweating. And people who stand all day for their job can find their feet sweat more.
A very small percentage of people have excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis, and some of them may find they only sweat heavily on their feet. This condition is called plantar hyperhidrosis. For some people the problem goes away, while others experience it all their lives.
How do I stop sweaty feet?
Sweat easily gets trapped in our feet and toes, so wash and dry them properly at least once a day.
Socks made from natural fabrics like cotton or bamboo fibres are the best option, as they draw moisture away from the feet.
Change your socks at least once a day.
Wear shoes made from breathable materials, like canvas or leather. Sandals or flip-flops in the summer will help your feet breathe.
Don’t wear the same pair of shoes every day, so they have time to dry out.
For very sweaty feet, wipe surgical spirit between your toes after a shower or bath to help dry them out.
Deodorising insoles and foot powders can help to absorb sweat and keep shoes fresh.
Consider using a foot soap or deodorant – particularly in hot climates.
Other treatments are available for people with excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis of the feet. For more information, speak to your doctor or a professional medical adviser.