Question of the Week Podcast

Question of the Week episode

Sun, 13th May 2012

Why do feet smell cheesy?

Picture of Swedish original non-skid socks from Nowali. (c) Sockiplast67

This week we hone our noses and sniff out the answer to this stinker of a question...."Why do toenails, and even feet in general, smell cheesy? Plus we ask can we make a magnet so strong that is squashes, rather thanks sticks to, our white goods? 

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Bacteria. Guthers, Mon, 30th Apr 2012

I don't think I have cheesy toenails.
But, if you have thickening and yellowing of the toenails, you may have a fungal or yeast infection. CliffordK, Tue, 1st May 2012

Like Guthers said, it's likely due to the bacteria.  The Brevibacteria that is used to ferment some cheeses is also present on our skin and concentrated around the feet causing odor.  Tray, Tue, 8th May 2012

Because milk and sweat are more similar than most people are happy thinking about. Bored chemist, Wed, 9th May 2012

& they taste like cheese 2!
CZARCAR, Wed, 9th May 2012

I think it's because of Propionibacterium but probably also cornebacteria and many others.

Basically, bacteria in cheese and those that live on feet will share some genetics, and thus will often produce similar smells. wolfekeeper, Sat, 12th May 2012

Did any of you even read the article above? Why are you all trying to answer the question (wrongly) that was answered already? Jay, Sat, 22nd Nov 2014

This is great, I clipped my toenails and sniffed them, smelled like Parmesan, and I started thinking up this imaginary world where Parmesan is a product scraped from beneath the toenails of giant trolls. Then I read this and was happy. Joshua K, Thu, 7th May 2015

Joshua your comment is wonderful. Darla, Sun, 17th May 2015

Ah this realization that cheese and keratin sceretions, when eaten by bacteria produce the same consistence and flavor/odor.... Did humans develop a like for cheese because it smelt like really masculine men(excess testosterone causes the secretions nessicary to feed the bacteria that create the smell). It certainly wouldn't even be close to the first time humans like something because it smells like a particularly virile/fertile man or woman Ohmy, Tue, 9th Jun 2015

My toe nail smells weird and it looks like it is gonna fall of I saw my doctor and she said it was fine but I disagree Joahua, Tue, 23rd Aug 2016

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