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Stinky Feet


Why does my feet smell like cheese?

It’s not uncommon for feet to occasionally smell like cheese. Not just any cheese. Stinky feet have the same smell as Muenster, Entrammes, and Limburger cheese. In fact, scientists observed that female malaria mosquitoes crave equally the smell of stinky feet and Limburger cheese. The common culprit for the smell is a bacterium, Brevibacterium epidermidis, used in cheese culture and also found on the skin. Brevibacterium thrives in the sweaty, salty, and warm environment between the toes to produce that distinct odor.


If the feet don't smell quite like cheese, yet not quite fresh either, rest assured other resident bacteria are producing and emitting stinky volatiles.


Help! I don’t want my feet to smell like a cheese plate

To stop and prevent stinky feet, try:

  • Wash your feet with an antibacterial soap once a day

  • Dry your feet well, especially between the toes

  • Wear socks that absorb sweat. Cotton and other natural materials absorb moisture better than man-made materials such as nylon.

  • Disinfect your insoles with disinfectant sprays containing ethanol or other sanitizing ingredients

  • Alternate shoes everyday to allow them to dry

  • Use a spray deodorant or antiperspirant on sweaty feet




References

Lenzer J. The importance of smelly feet and stinky cheese. BMJ. 2006 Oct 14;333(7572):771.

https://share.upmc.com/2016/11/why-do-my-feet-smell/

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/4-sure-fire-ways-you-can-avoid-stinky-feet/

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/how-to-avoid-smelly-feet/

Ara K, Hama M, Akiba S, Koike K, Okisaka K, Hagura T, Kamiya T, Tomita F. Foot odor due to microbial metabolism and its control. Can J Microbiol. 2006 Apr;52(4):357-64