Feet sweating is a condition that some of us have experienced from time to time. However, for some people, the sweaty foot is a persistent condition that significantly impedes their day-to-day life.
Excessive sweating of feet (hyperhidrosis) is a common problem in men than women and happens to be more prevalent in young adults compared to the older population. People with the sweaty feet syndrome are also likely to experience other challenges such as sweaty palms, underarm excessive sweating, or sweaty face/scalp.
Reasons or causes
The human body has about 2-5 million sweat glands. However, there are more sweat glands per inch in the feet (about 250,000 sweat glands), compared to other body parts. The purpose of the sweat glands is to regulate body temperature and to keep the skin moist. It is not uncommon for feet to sweat if you are exercising or if you are exposed to high temperature. On the other hand, there are people with overactive sweat glands in the palms and feet, probably due to genetic factors.
The sweaty foot is a condition that can be inherited. Also, people may experience sweaty feet in the summer or winter. In young adults (adolescents and youths below the age of 25), excessive sweating of feet may be triggered by the hormonal changes. If you are a young adult and are experiencing mental or emotional stress, then you are likely to notice your feet sweat a lot at this time.
People with excessive feet sweating tend to feel that their feet are sloppy or soggy. The excessive sweaty feet is a cause for discomfort and makes the person anxious, especially when they wear flip flops or other sandals. You may also notice that you leave damp footprints when you walk barefoot, and you may feel like you have cold, sweaty, feet because your feet are always soaked in sweat.
Although the exact cause of sweaty feet is unknown, the good news is that the condition is manageable and treatable. With proper hygiene, you will be able to go about your daily routine without feeling uncomfortable.
Treatment & home remedies
Excessive sweating, whether on the feet, underarms, or palms is treatable. Treatments include the use of antiperspirants, iontophoresis, and Botulinum toxin injections (Botox). Botox injections are especially common with excessive underarm sweating. However, the procedure can also be used on the feet. It is important to note that Botox plantar injections (injections on the foot) can be painful and the results are not as long lasting compared to underarm injections. The procedure tends to wear off in 3-4 months.
One sweaty feet cure that can be effective is the use of antiperspirants. You can begin with over-the-counter antiperspirants such as Certain Dri. The over-the-counter antiperspirants typically contain Aluminum chloride hexahydrate which inhibits the excessive sweat production. According to the International Hyperhidrosis Society, you should choose antiperspirants that contain around 30% concentration of the chemical. Aerosol antiperspirant products can stop feet sweating. However, if the over-the counter antiperspirants do not help, then you should consider consulting a podiatrist.
It is advisable to apply over-the-counter antiperspirants before bedtime so that it has a longer period of time to work on the sweaty feet, and does not damage your clothes. You should apply the product on the bottom of your feet and between the toes and keep in mind that the antiperspirant can damage the fabric. If you wish to avoid the aluminum product altogether, you can consider experimenting with the milk of magnesia.
Iontophoresis is another effective treatment for sweaty feet. It is recommended for people who have tried prescription antiperspirants but require a stronger treatment approach. This treatment approach involves the use of electrical current in the water.
Although a surgical procedure can offer a permanent solution to the problem. It is advisable not to undertake this treatment approach as it is HIGHLY risky.
Home remedies for sweaty feet
Over the decades, there have been numerous approaches that were used as remedies for sweaty feet. For instance, in World War II, soldiers used cabbage leaves. In Ireland, Bladder Wrack (Fucus Vesiculosus) was used to treat sweaty and sore feet. However, in the modern era, some of the strategies used include:
- Baking Soda: Mix two to three tablespoons of baking soda in water. Soak your legs in the solution for about thirty minutes and pat them dry. The alkaline nature of the baking soda helps reduce feet sweating.
- Potato Slices: Rub some potato slices against the feet. Let the potato juice stay on the feet for some time. Later on, rinse them and pat them dry.
- Apple Cider: Soak your feet in a mixture of apple cider vinegar (1/2 a cup) and 1 quart of water. Your feet should remain in the solution for about 15-20 minutes to reduce the excessive feet sweating.
Other sweaty feet solutions include the use of tea bags. Soak your feet in a solution of black tea leaves and water. Also, you can use sandalwood paste mixed with lime juice, water, or rosemary water.
It is important to note that most of these home remedies provide a temporary relief to the problem.
Best shoes and socks for sweaty feet
Sweaty feet are susceptible to bacteria and fungi infection. As a result, when the feet come into contact with socks created from poor textiles, or certain shoes, severe itching or skin irritation may occur. You may experience sweat-related dermatosis due to the friction between the skin, the socks, as well as the shoes. People with sweaty feet are susceptible to conditions such as Athletes foot/Keratin defects, foot odor, or infections such as eczema.
When looking for shoes for sweaty feet, go for shoes that allow your feet to breathe. Well-fitting shoes made from leather or canvas material are ideal. Also, go for athletic shoes that are perspiration friendly to prevent sweat build-up or foot odor. For sandals, rather than sliding when you wear flip-flops, you can consider other comfortable sandals in the market.
For people with sweaty feet, most of the sweat is absorbed by the insoles. You can consider purchasing insoles made from natural products such as activated charcoal/carbon insoles, or insoles made from micro suede, fabric absorbent material. Other types of insoles in the market include cedar-wood insoles. Similar to the active charcoal product, cedar wood has natural antifungal and antibacterial properties. This product is absorbent and is useful for keeping the feet dry and odor free. One of the best-reviewed product is Zederna’s Original Cedarsole Inserts.
As a rule of thumb, remember to air out your shoes between uses. Ensure that you never wear the same pair of shoes for two days in a row. Also, avoid wearing the same insole daily and allow them to dry out before using them again.
Avoid heavy socks or socks made from nylon and other synthetic products (such as plastic or polyester). Also, avoid cotton socks as they tend to become sodden due to the absorption of the sweat. The best socks for people with sweaty feet include specialty socks designed to deal with plantar hyperhidrosis (excessive sweaty feet). These socks include moisture wicking socks, wool socks, liner socks and dry max socks. You can consider trying the Drymax Run Mini-Crew socks, or the Wigwam At Work Durasole socks.
A Practical guide to this problem
Remember to wear clean socks daily and to carry a pair of clean socks with you to work or school. Wash your feet daily with an antibacterial soap, after which you pat dry. Ensure that you completely dry the areas between the toes. After drying the feet, use an antiperspirant followed with a foot powder (talc powder). This will prevent the excessive feet sweating and the risk of developing foot odor. Wear a clean, dry, pair of socks made from moisture wicking materials. Lastly, remember to carry baby wipes if you are going to be unable to wash your feet later on during the day.
It is advisable to go barefoot as often as possible and to wear sandals or open toed shoes. This will allow your feet to remain well-ventilated and will reduce the likelihood of sweat.
If adhering to proper hygiene and the use of over-the-counter antiperspirants fails to help, consider consulting a podiatrist.