Why Do I Have Smelly and Sweaty Feet?

hyperhidrosis bromhidrosis feet.

An Insight into Hyperhidrosis and Bromhidrosis of the Feet

If we had a dollar for every time we as podiatrists are asked how we deal with sweaty and smelly feet all day, we’d all be rich!

To be honest, you do tend to build a tolerance to the smell of feet.

In saying that, when you visit us there is absolutely no need to apologise for or be embarrassed by your sweaty or smelly feet – we’re here to help you!

Key Takeaways:

  • Hyperhidrosis is the increased production of sweat by the eccrine glands and can affect any part of the body, but often affects the feet and hands more due to a higher concentration of these glands in those areas.
  • Hyperhidrosis can be classified into two types: primary hyperhidrosis, which is usually genetic and affects the hands, feet, and underarms, and generalized hyperhidrosis, which occurs in conjunction with another medical condition and affects adults.
  • Bromhidrosis is the condition where sweat interacts with bacteria, causing a smell. It is closely linked to hyperhidrosis.
  • Hyperhidrosis and bromhidrosis can lead to various foot conditions such as maceration, athlete’s foot, and pitted keratolysis.
  • Treatment options for managing hyperhidrosis and bromhidrosis include wearing breathable shoes, choosing socks made of natural fibres, using astringents or antiperspirants to dry out the skin, practising good foot hygiene, and seeking professional help if home remedies are ineffective.

What is Hyperhidrosis?

Hyperhidrosis is the increased production of sweat by the eccrine glands in the skin, and is sometimes known as excessive sweating.

These glands are present throughout the whole body to help regulate your body temperature, meaning that hyperhidrosis can affect you anywhere on the body.

However, hyperhidrosis often affects the feet and hands more than other areas because there are a lot more of these glands on the feet and hands than anywhere else.

While people sweat, when they have hyperhidrosis, the increased sweating can be quite extreme and leave them with wet clothing, feeling embarrassed or self-conscious and can cause emotional stress.

While people don’t really like talking about being excessively sweaty, this condition is far more common than you may think. Research suggests that 3 in every 100 people (3 percent of people) in Australia suffer from hyperhidrosis.

It is important to note that excessive sweating in some instances is to be expected, such as during hot weather, when eating certain foods such as chilli, during menopause, when you’re running a fever, or even when you are nervous or scared.

Two Types of Hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis can be separated into 2 parts:

  • Primary hyperhidrosis 

This is usually genetic and tends to affect the hands, feet and underarms. It also tends to affect child

  • Generalised hyperhidrosis

This happens in conjunction with another medical condition, such as diabetes and occurs in adults.


What is Bromhidrosis?

Bromhidrosis occurs when your sweat is exposed to bacteria and causes a smell.

Sweat itself does not actually have an odour. It’s only when it comes into contact with bacteria that the smell is produced. This is why bromhidrosis is so closely linked to hyperhidrosis.

How does Bromhidrosis and Hyperhidrosis affect my feet?

When you have hyperhidrosis feet, maceration or moist skin is likely to occur, particularly in the web spaces between your toes.

Other conditions can also arise including tinea pedis (athlete’s foot) and pitted keratolysis.

How are Bromhidrosis and Hyperhidrosis treated?

There are some simple yet effective treatment options to help you manage both hyperhidrosis and bromhidrosis.


You spend a lot of time in your shoes, therefore that’s a great place to start.

It’s important to make sure that your shoes are breathable and not too constrictive, as this can increase sweating.

Bacteria thrive in moist, warm conditions, therefore it’s important that the environment that your feet are in for a significant period of time is not ideal for bacteria!

If you find you do sweat a lot, as your shoes tend to absorb moisture, air your shoes out in the backyard to help with getting rid of the moisture, and try to wear shoes that are breathable.


In conjunction with healthy shoes, its equally as important to make sure that your socks are in good condition too.

Whilst thick socks are great for the winter months, they are also occlusive and can promote foot sweating.

Try socks made of natural fibres that are a little more breathable, as these tend to be moisture wicking and absorb sweat so they are great at keeping your feet dry. Avoid nylon socks where possible.

You can get all sorts of socks made from natural fibres, including socks for kids and sports socks.

For most people this goes without saying, but make sure that you are changing your socks daily as well.


A home remedy that also proves very effective is the use of astringents such as methylated spirits, which work to dry out the skin and are great to use in between your toes.

Antiperspirants have also proved effective in managing sweating.

Ensure you wash your feet thoroughly and daily.

Professional Help

Should these simple at home remedies prove to be ineffective, consult with a healthcare professional like a GP to determine whether any underlying medical conditions may also be contributing to this or potential other treatments.

If you’ve got sweaty and/or smelly feet, come see us today

If you do have a tendency to have sweaty feet or are concerned about foot odour, book in to see us today at Watsonia Podiatry!

Our team are highly experienced, especially when it comes to sweaty feet, so call us on (03) 9432 2689 or book an appointment online here.


Aaron Dri