Why do sweaty feet smell of cheese? © Getty Images

Why do sweaty feet smell of cheese?

Foot cheese: not tasty on a cracker

Asked by: Jo Drysdale, Bristol

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The same bacteria that is used to ripen many cheeses, including Munster, Limburger and Port-du-Salut, also lives on our skin and eats dead skin cells. It’s called Brevibacterium; as it digests it gives off S-methyl thioesters, which smell cheesy.

Another skin-munching bacterium is Staphylococcus epidermidis, which produces the cheesy, vinegary-smelling isovaleric acid. The final ingredient in this ‘socktail’ is Propionibacterium, which converts sweat into the sour-smelling propanoic acid.


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