Foot Fetish: What You Need to Know

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on November 20, 2023
5 min read

People with a foot fetish, or podophilia, are sexually excited by feet. They get sexual pleasure from feet and may consider them a necessary part of sexual gratification.

How many people have a foot fetish?

Foot fetishism is one of the most common types of sexual fetishes. In one study using surveys from people on the internet, about a third of people said they had a fetish for non-genital body parts or features or objects used on or with the body. In this survey, more people said feet and objects linked with feet, like stockings, shoes, and socks, were sexually arousing than any other objects. People who were assigned male at birth (AMAB) and people who identify as LBGTQ+ are also more likely to say they have a fetish. 

Some experts believe that fetishes develop because something happened when you were a kid or teenager that linked the fetish object with sexual arousal in your mind. 

Other experts believe the origins of foot fetishes may lie in your brain. Researchers can use brain maps to show the areas of your brain that turn on when you experience sensations, like when you touch, see, or smell something. Brain maps show that the parts of your brain that control the sensations in your feet and genitals are right next to each other. So in some people, when you feel, see, or smell feet, the area in your brain that controls your genitals may turn on too. 

Other reasons include:

  • Living in sex-positive communities may make sexual exploration more acceptable, potentially resulting in fetishes that make sex more fun or pleasurable.
  • Certain cultures may emphasize particular objects or body parts, creating a fetish.
  • People may tie sexual arousal to objects that remind them of their childhood.

People with a foot fetish usually have clear preferences. For instance, some people with a foot fetish prefer bare feet. Some enjoy clean feet and shoes, while others prefer dirty or sweaty ones. Some enjoy large feet, while others prefer small sizes. Other people may enjoy garments like socks or shoes. Someone with a shoe fetish, also known as retifism, finds feet in shoes, or perhaps just the shoes themselves, erotic and sexually gratifying.

They may prefer a specific kind of shoe, like sandals, or they may simply enjoy shoes in general. People with a shoe fetish may like:

  • Wearing shoes themselves
  • Seeing others wear shoes
  • Using the shoes for sexual gratification

Some people have both a foot fetish and a shoe fetish.


If you have a sexual partner, the first step is telling them about your fetish. You may be nervous to bring it up, and that’s really common. Opening up to another person about your deepest desires can be a very vulnerable feeling, but honesty is important for good sexual communication. 

Your first and most important step toward helpful sexual communication is having a clear process for consent. Consent is much more than just asking for or giving a "yes" or "no." Consent means you help your partner understand your boundaries, desires, needs, and preferences and share yours openly with them. Sexuality experts recommend creating a dedicated time to talk about it with no interruptions. And don't talk about it in the heat of the moment. You and your partner need time to think about things and ask questions.

If you are the partner with a foot fetish:

  • Be open and honest about your desires.
  • If you want to bring foot play into your sexual encounters, take things at a pace that is comfortable for your partner.

If your partner has the foot fetish: 

  • Be patient, kind, supportive, and compassionate when they talk with you about it.
  • Listen and ask questions.
  • If you're interested in exploring this aspect of your partner's sexuality with them, ask for the time you need to adjust and get comfortable. It's always OK to say no and ask for time.

You can explore your foot fetish with or without a sexual partner. On your own, one way to start is by searching online for images or videos of feet.

If both you and your partner would like to explore a foot fetish, some ideas include:

  • Giving or receiving a foot massage
  • Sucking on toes
  • Kissing certain areas of the feet
  • Washing each other's feet
  • Getting a pedicure
  • Sending foot pictures to your partner
  • Giving or receiving a foot job (stimulating the genitals using the feet)

A foot fetish is generally safe. If you and your partner are exploring a foot fetish through touch, it’s a good idea to make sure toenails are trimmed and your feet are free of any open sores or wounds, especially before you or your partner put toes or feet into your mouth, vagina, or anus.

Some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be spread through skin-to-skin contact. Usually this is through genital skin-to-skin contact, but if you are touching your hands and feet to their genitals and then touching your own genitals, you could spread STDs this way. You may only have to have contact with an infected area of another person to become sick yourself. STDs that are spread through skin-to-skin contact include genital herpes, syphilis, and human papillomavirus (HPV).

To protect yourself from STDs, the CDC recommends that you:

  • Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B and HPV.
  • Get tested regularly.
  • Get to know someone before you have sex so you can talk honestly about STDs (and other sexual issues) before you have sex with them.
  • Use a condom every time you have sex and use it correctly.
  • Don't mix alcohol or recreational drugs and sex — you're more likely to make risky decisions if you are drunk or high.

If you or your partner has a skin infection, such as athlete's foot or impetigo, don't have sex that involves touching infected skin to genitals. Make sure you get treated before you get down to business again.

Simply having a fetish is normal and is not a sign of disordered behavior. But a fetish can become a more serious issue if the fixation leads you to perform unsafe or illegal activities or if it causes you to feel anxious or depressed. If your foot fetish causes damage to your social or work life, you may want to talk to a mental health professional.