Can a Doctor Help with Smelly Feet?

I sat down with Dr. Jane Smith, a podiatrist specializing in foot care, to learn more about smelly feet and how doctors can help with this common problem.

Q: How can doctors diagnose the underlying cause of smelly feet?

Dr. Smith: During an exam, I’ll look for visual signs of fungal infection like scaling and redness. I’ll also examine the nails for thickening or debris which could indicate fungus. Often I’ll take a skin scraping to check for fungus under the microscope. I’ll also ask questions about the patient’s hygiene habits, footwear, activity level and medical history to narrow down potential causes.

Q: What treatments do you recommend for smelly feet?

Dr. Smith: If there’s an underlying fungal infection, I’ll prescribe a topical or oral antifungal medication. Proper hygiene is also important – washing the feet daily, drying thoroughly between the toes, and using medicated powders can help reduce odor. Avoiding tight, non-breathable shoes and socks is also key. For excessive sweating, I may recommend over-the-counter antiperspirants made specifically for the feet. In severe cases, I can prescribe prescription-strength antiperspirants or other medications to reduce sweating. Custom orthotics can also help reduce friction that leads to moisture buildup.

Q: When should someone see a doctor about smelly feet?

Dr. Smith: You should make an appointment if you’ve tried over-the-counter treatments and proper hygiene without improvement in odor or appearance of the feet. Also see a doctor if the odor is very severe or if you notice changes in the skin or nails like cracking, scaling, discoloration or thickening. These could indicate a fungal infection or another medical condition needing treatment. It’s important to get diagnosed and treated early before the problem becomes more widespread and harder to treat.

Q: Can smelly feet be cured or is it something that has to be managed over time?

Dr. Smith: With the right treatment plan, we can typically cure fungal and bacterial infections causing foot odor, though they may take weeks or months to fully resolve. For conditions like hyperhidrosis that can’t be cured, the goal is to control symptoms with prescription antiperspirants, orthotics, breathable footwear and diligent hygiene practices. While smelly feet can’t always be eliminated entirely, there are many effective ways to keep odor under control and have healthy, comfortable feet. The key is visiting a podiatrist to pinpoint the underlying cause and create an effective treatment plan.