Everyone’s feet sweat. But some people have excessively sweaty feet. Excessive sweating is called hyperhidrosis and is treatable. It is more common in men but can also occur in women. It affects three percent of the population and oftentimes affects both the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. Many people with this condition never seek medical care for it. This may be because they are embarrassed or don’t think there are any treatments available.
The cause of hyperhidrosis is not known. Like many conditions, there is likely an inherited component. People with hyperhidrosis do not just sweat when they are hot; they sweat most of the time. This can be more than just an annoyance. It can cause their feet to slip inside their shoes, making them more prone to blisters and areas of irritation on their feet. It can make them more prone to developing infections such as athlete’s foot as well. Odor is a common problem for people with this condition which can lead to anxiety and emotional stress.
Proper foot hygiene is especially important for people with hyperhidrosis to prevent infections and reduce odor. They should wash their feet daily with soap, including between their toes. Dry between toes well after washing and make sure your feet are completely dry before putting shoes, slippers or socks on. Foot powders can be applied to absorb sweat. Foot powders should be put on completely dry feet in order to be most effective.
Avoid cotton socks. Cotton absorbs moisture but does not pull it away from the skin. On the contrary, wool absorbs moisture well and pulls it away from the skin. There are socks made from acrylic and synthetic blends that are designed to draw moisture away from your skin. Many athletic socks have this feature. You may need to change your socks several times during the day. If your socks feel damp or wet, it is time to change them. You should look for shoes made of breathable material. Shoes should be changed if they are wet. You can use a sanitizing spray or ultra violet shoe sanitizer to help prevent foot infections caused by bacteria in your shoes.
There are treatments available. Some people have reported success with natural treatments such as sage, chamomile, valerian root, and dietary changes. In some cases, using an over the counter antiperspirant on the soles of the feet will be enough to control the symptoms. There are also prescription antiperspirants available. Oral medications may be used in some cases. Botox injections can be used to temporarily control the symptoms. Iontophoresis, a non-invasive therapy where a mild electrical current is passed through the affected area, has also been shown to help with symptoms and may be done at home. As a last resort, there are surgeries that can help, as well.
Dr. Katie Evans is a board-certified podiatrist and owner of Range Foot & Ankle in Virginia MN. She provides comprehensive foot and ankle care including surgical options and wound care. Learn more at www.rangefootandankle.com.