Why Do My Feet Smell Like Vinegar

Last Updated on September 16, 2022 by Andre

Bromodosis is the medical term for smelly feet. Everyone gets food odor, some worse than others. But why do my feet smell like Vinegar? How To Avoid Foot Odor?

Why Do My Feet Smell Like Vinegar?
Why Do My Feet Smell Like Vinegar?

The feet sweat more than you may realize. 

According to USCDS, approximately 250,000 sweat glands are present on the feet. 

So no wonder feet tend to sweat a lot, which increases the chances of having certain foot odors, including that vinegar smell on your feet.

Bromodosis may be the name given for smelly feet, but some other causes and reasons may create that pungent odor.

The last thing you would want to do is visit your friends and need to take your shoes off, fearing others will notice something off and it may not be them.

We will discuss some of these reasons for foot odor, along with causes and ways you can use some helpful tips to not only avoid these issues but save some embarrassment you may face. 

Some reasons covered are diabetes, stress, hormonal changes, infections, diets, and even the general lifestyle you may be living, all of which may have a determining reason for that smelly foot odor lurking around your feet.

So let us dig deeper with the causes and reasons, along with some helpful tips that you can easily do from the comfort of your home.

Why Do My Feet Smell Like Vinegar?

As we have found, the feet contain a lot of sweat glands, in fact, more than any other areas of the body.

Perhaps this is why so many people get various forms of foot odor and have that vinegar smell on their feet.

Although sweat does not have an odor itself, bacterial growth occurs in particular between those piglets found hanging off your feet. 

Your toes tend to get attacked the most, along with being the convenient place to contain added moisture.

Bromodosis.

Bromodosis is the medical term for smelly feet and is a medical condition people experience throughout life, regardless of being young or old. 

The odor can range from mild to extreme and can have a sour smell depending on various factors discussed below. 

What is with the vinegar smell on my feet? 

Propionibacterium is a particular type of bacteria that feeds on foot sweat. 

A by-product of Propionibacterium is Propionic Acid which helps to break down foot sweat and helps promote bacterial growth.

Propionic Acid

Propionic acid is a group of amino acids similar to Acetic acid. 

Acetic acid is found in vinegar to give that sour taste.

However, the smell may be slightly more rancid odor compared to vinegar.

Due to this variation, the odor can play some havoc on your nose and other noses as well.

Add excess moisture (sweat) together with warmth equals a breeding ground for bacterial growth waiting to happen. 

Propionic acid can easily convert odorless sweat into that vinegar smell on your feet.

Other Reasons Sweaty Feet Occur

Now we know why the vinegar smell is on your feet, reasons that cause excessive sweating outside the so-called norm may be present.

Infections:

Plantar Hyperhidrosis. 

A condition that affects up to 3% of the worldwide population and may lead to excessive sweating of the feet. 

Usually, such conditions generally can start during childhood.

This condition can occur on its own as it can be genetic or in combination with other conditions mentioned above relating to having that vinegar odor due to Propionic Acid.

In severe cases, you may find infections can occur, such as Pitted Keratolysis (described below) or Tinea Perdis (commonly known as Athlete’s Foot) this is also covered below.

An athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection and is a form of ringworm. 

Tinea Pedis is another name for athlete’s foot.

Pitted Keratolysis

Pitted Keratolysis, is another type of bacterial infection caused by Corynebacteria.

It looks more like punched-out pits on the skin, found mainly on the heel base, soles, and the underside of the toes.

Pitted keratolysis can be treated successfully with topical antibiotics provided by your doctor. 

However, in order to avoid this from re-occurring proper foot care needs to be addressed.

If not treated properly, it can come back quickly.

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s Foot (Tinea pedis) is a contagious fungal infection usually found between the toes.  

It is a form of ringworm that can live on or even in the skin.

The most common way to get this is via skin-to-skin contact with someone already infected. 

Most often, this is due to sharing communal environments such as gym showers, swimming pools, saunas, and locker room areas.

Infection may result from walking barefoot in such places mentioned above or sharing the same towel, shoes, or socks with someone who may already be infected.

Your feet can become very itchy and may present a scaly rash. 

Remember, it is contagious and can spread quickly and easily. 

So do not share towels or clothing, and always wear some foot protection if using communal showers such as the gym or camping sites.

Diabetes

Important notice for those with diabetes! 

Pay close attention to your feet.

One of the most dangerous issues for diabetics is the control of high blood sugar levels.

There are two main issues diabetics face. These are diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease which can damage your feet. 

They can cause nerve damage where you may not even sense pain, even temperature changes.

Infection may occur, especially if you have cuts or damage between the toes.

As the body burns fat faster than normal, ketones are produced making the blood more acidic. 

Acetone released into the sweat may cause that vinegar odor on your feet.

Hormonal changes

Hormones can have a drastic change on your feet and can result in added sweating but also can create that vinegar smell on your feet.

Those going through puberty, pregnancy, menstruation, and even during menopause can affect how our feet react to added foot odor and that vinegar smell.

You will find that teenagers and pregnant women are most prone to sweaty feet due to hormonal changes.

Stress

Added stress can be an indicator and may result in having that vinegar smell on your feet. 

The reason for this is that when you are dealing with more stress than usual, apocrine glands are activated.

Apocrine glands mix with the sweat glands on your feet and create that vinegar smell prominent on your feet.

General Lifestyle

Everyone leads various lifestyles, and some are more active than others. 

Yet the fact remains everyone sweats to a certain point. 

In a work environment, most people need to wear certain types of protective footwear. 

They may be there to protect your feet from physical damage but not necessarily protect your feet from foot odor.

So lets’ go through some thoughts where general lifestyle may create odor along the way.

Pay attention to your socks and shoes.

Keeping fit such as jogging, walking, working in the gym, or even being involved in various types of sports is encouraged and wonderful to be part of.

However, how many times do you take care of your shoes and socks? 

Pay attention to your socks and shoes.

Shoes

What you are wearing for your feet can also create an issue for your feet to smell like vinegar.

Wearing poorly ventilated footwear such as non-leather boots and synthetic shoes is not designed to care for your feet in allow them to breathe efficiently.

These days many shoes are designed for looks rather than aimed for proper skin protection for your feet.

Such shoes only help trap the sweat more, because of this, more bacteria growth is present, which can lead to further infections if not taken care of.

Wearing the same shoes day in and day out will make matters worse.

Best to avoid wearing the same shoes or boots two days in a row as you need to give them time to breathe and air out properly.

It is also beneficial to have more than one pair of shoes.

Socks

The same goes for socks made from polyester or other materials that are not designed as wick moisture socks.

Wick moisture socks help to absorb sweat. 

Dress socks these days do not absorb sweat properly nor allow for proper breathing to your feet.

Some of the best socks to wear, are Cotton, Wool, and Bamboo

Yes, bamboo is not just for Gorillas but for your feet and body as well.

Did you know that Bamboo is better than cotton and environment-wise better overall? 

Bamboo uses less water, and it needs less space to grow, bamboo regrows quicker than trees and takes up less space than those cotton fields. 

Another option to think about wicking moisture socks is Toe socks.

Toe socks cover each toe separately to prevent excess build-up of moisture.

You will find added protection for any skin-to-skin abrasions that may create blisters on your feet.

They may look weird at first to wear, but the benefits certainly are worthwhile and very comfortable once you get used to them. 

Blisters combined with other bacterial growth may also lead to further issues with your toes and feet.

Change in Diets

There are two ways this can go regarding smelly feet.

So take notes to be aware of what changes you have made regarding diets and what foods you have introduced or taken away.

Often for whatever reason, a change in diet may show an improvement or at least a reduction of that vinegar odor.

On the flip side, if you never had that vinegar smell on your feet and suddenly you start noticing the change for the worst, this is where you should look at what has changed.

Recording changes in habits can certainly help you, but your doctor will want to know what has changed along with what has been added.

 How to prevent and treat smelly feet 

  • Most times a simple lifestyle change needs to be made along with hygiene to help prevent and treat your smelly feet.
  • Wash your feet every day.
  • If you suffer from excessive sweating, you may need to do this more on a daily basis.
  • Ensure you dry your feet thoroughly, especially between the toes.
  • Wear wick moisture socks that help absorb moisture away from the skin.
  • Change socks daily to help keep your skin dry.
  • Wear shoes of natural materials such as leather and natural fabrics and avoid synthetics type shoes.
  • Rotate the shoes you wear to air and dry out. Take the insoles out to dry to prevent added moisture from collecting.
  • Allow your shoes to dry out properly before wearing them again.
  • Go barefoot when you can, especially at home.
  • Use a foot file or pumice stone to take the dead skin off your feet. Dead skin helps to collect moisture and ensure your skin is smooth instead.
  • Regularly check your feet for any signs of fungal infections or other signs.
  • Cut and clean your toenails to avoid bacteria from forming under the nails.

Simple Home Remedies for feet smelling like vinegar.

Foot Bath: 

Here you can give your feet a foot bather with Epsom Salt and or Vinegar. 

Not only to clear the feet of any bacteria, but it can also be a relaxing time for your feet to rest and enjoy.

Epsom Salt Bath:

Dissolve half a cup of Epsom Salt in a large bowl or tub of warm water and soak your feet for around 10-20 mins. 

Epsom Salt helps to draw out bacteria, and regular foot baths help to reduce bacteria growth from coming back.

Vinegar Bath:

Strange as it may sound, using vinegar to take out the vinegar smell from our feet.

Vinegar is a powerful anti-bacterial agent against many forms of bacteria and is not just for the feet.

Here you can add two parts of White or Apple Cider Vinegar with warm water again in a large bowl or tub. 

Allow your feet to soak for 10-20 mins, and then thoroughly dry your feet when done.

You can use either White or Apple Cider vinegar. Braggs is a popular choice. 

Caution Using Vinegar

If you find that vinegar irritates your skin, then avoid this bath type. The same caution applies if you have any open sores, scratches, or cuts you may have. 

Should this be the case, best to use the Epsom Salt Bath method.

Other home remedies

Cornstarch:

Corn starch helps to soak up moisture. Sprinkle a small amount on the inside of your shoes to help absorb moisture.

Anti-bacterial Soap or Sprays

Using anti-bacterial soap daily when washing your feet can be very effective.

Anti-bacterial sprays you can use to spray inside your insoles for your shoes.

If you still have a foot odor after trying these methods, see your doctor assess any other issues that may need medical treatment.

Takeaway

Everyone sweats, some more than others since there are so many sweat glands on the feet (250,000 in total).

We can now understand more about why your feet are prone to sweating because of excess moisture and why your feet smell like vinegar.

Taking all the basic methods to ensure your feet are always clean and dry goes a long way to preventing foot odor and other fungal infections that may occur as a result.

The main area is to ensure you take foot care seriously and ensure your feet are dry and especially dry between the toes.

Always have different types of footwear and ensure you do not wear the same shoes or socks constantly. 

Rotating your shoes and wearing clean and wick moistening socks go a long way and will help to keep the bugs away.

Should you have other issues relating to health or find any methods are still not working and you are sweating a lot, then also best see your doctor for further assessment.

Comments

Have your feet smelt like vinegar before? 

If so, let me know in the comment section below.

What measures did you take to solve the issue, and what worked best for you?

Your support is valuable so is your foot health. 

Thank you for your time, and may your feet enjoy the loving care you give them, and they will enjoy keeping you going along the way.

As Always

Namaste The Journey begins with you. Andre
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