child with stinky feetIf you've been asking yourself, "Why does my little angel have such pungent feet?" you're not alone. Foot odor, officially referred to as bromodosis, is a common problem for kids of all ages. This condition can be a source of embarrassment and frustration for children and parents alike, but it's easily treated.

Understanding the Causes of Smelly Feet in Children

Understanding what's causing your child's struggle with foot odor is the first step in addressing the problem. Sweat, poor foot hygiene, improper footwear, and fungal infections are the most common causes of stinky feet.


The moisture from sweat provides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria to thrive. These bacteria naturally reside on the skin and, when combined with sweat, break down the sweat's proteins into substances that emit an unpleasant odor.

Most parents associate sweat with physical activity, but there are some additional factors you should be aware of as you're trying to control your child's foot odor.

  • Genetics. Hyperhidrosis is the medical term for excessive sweating. This condition is caused by inherited traits. It affects the feet, hands, armpits, and face.
  • Hormonal changes. As children go through puberty, their hormones can trigger an increase in sweating, making them more susceptible to foot odor.
  • Stress and anxiety. Feeling stressed or anxious can cause the sweat glands to become more active, exacerbating foot odor. In this case, helping your child find healthy ways to manage their emotions can have the added benefit of reducing foot odor.

Poor Foot Hygiene

Children might not always prioritize foot hygiene, especially if they are too young to manage their personal care. Inadequate foot washing or not drying feet properly after bathing can allow bacteria to accumulate and worsen foot odor.

If your child is struggling with stinky feet, wearing clean socks and washing the feet daily with warm water and soap is essential. You'll also want to encourage your child to go barefoot around your home to give the feet time to air out.

Improper Footwear

Wearing shoes and socks that don't allow for proper ventilation can lead to excessive sweating and, consequently, worsened foot odor. Synthetic materials that trap moisture, such as nylon and rayon, are especially problematic. Stick to leather shoes and 100% cotton socks.

It's also important to make sure your child is wearing the correct size of shoes. In addition to being uncomfortable, tight shoes can cause the feet to sweat excessively. Your child should have two or three pairs of properly fitting everyday shoes, so the shoes will have time to dry out before being worn again.

Fungal Infections

Fungi, such as athlete's foot (tinea pedis), can contribute to foot odor in children. Fungal infections can cause skin irritation and inflammation, leading to an increase in foot odor.

Over-the-counter antifungal treatments are generally safe for use in children. However, these products may not work for every case of athlete's foot. If your child's symptoms don't improve within seven to 10 days, or your child is experiencing pain in their feet, contact our office immediately. 

Our Magic Valley Podiatrists Are Here to Help

In many cases, smelly feet can be managed at home. However, if you're still struggling to keep the odor under control, our Magic Valley podiatrists can help. The Canyon Foot + Ankle team takes a family-first approach to patient care. Our goal is to ensure your child's feet are happy, healthy, and in great shape for a lifetime of use!

When you visit our offices in Twin Falls or Burley, we'll conduct a thorough examination that involves assessing your child's skin, nails, and overall foot health to identify any underlying medical conditions that might contribute to foot odor. Based on the examination findings, we'll devise a personalized hygiene plan for your child's foot care. This plan may include proper cleaning techniques, guidance on selecting appropriate footwear, and prescriptions for topical medications or antifungal treatments.