Sweaty Feet (Hyperhydrosis)

Wearing the correct socks is crucial—many socks now have special properties that wick moisture away from your feet and prevent bacteria from growing.

Did you know that in normal situations, your feet put out more than 1⁄2 cup of sweat per day? Try pouring that into your shoe. It's no wonder that problems such as sweaty and smelly feet are so prevalent.

There are more sweat glands per inch of our feet than anywhere else in the body, and their function is to keep the skin moist and therefore supple. They secrete all the time, not just in response to heat or exercise, as elsewhere in the body.

Some people just put out more sweat than average. This can lead to many problems, including athlete's foot, blisters and just plain discomfort. An added problem which often accompanies sweaty feet is foot odor. This is caused by bacteria on the skin breaking the sweat down, which releases an offensive smell.

Luckily, there are many treatments available to treat and prevent hyperhydrosis.

Possible Causes

Sweaty feet can be caused by stress on the foot. This may be due to a structural problem, or because the foot is under strain or tired—for example, when you've been standing on your feet all day.

Hot weather can make matters worse, although sweaty feet are a problem throughout the year.  Sweaty feet can also be an inherited condition.

In adolescents, sweaty feet are probably caused by over-active sweat glands triggered by changing hormonal levels in the body. As the sweat glands on the soles of the feet (and the palms of the hand) respond mostly to emotion, mental or emotional stress is a common cause.

What to do

Simple hygiene is usually effective in dealing with sweaty feet. Try the following recommendations:

Daily foot hygiene

  • Wash your feet in the morning and evening with warm soapy water (use an anti-bacterial soap if odor is present). Avoid hot water, which may make you sweat more. After washing, dip your feet in cold water (do not do this if you have an existing circulatory condition).
  • Dry feet thoroughly with a coarse towel.
  • Apply an astringent like surgical spirit, and then lightly dust with talcum powder.
  • Change your socks or stockings at least once a day.
  • Rotate your footwear—try not to wear the same pair of shoes daily. Shoes don't dry out overnight. They may need a longer period of time.

Shoes

Careful consideration of footwear and socks is essential. Well-fitting shoes made of leather, which allow your feet to breathe, are best. Athletic shoes using nylon mesh for breathability are also recommended for sweaty feet.

Since a lot of sweat is absorbed by insoles or the uppers of shoes, don't wear the same pair every day, and allow them to dry out before wearing them again. Detachable insoles are also a good idea. The Shoe Fitting Specialists at SHOES-n-FEET®can help you find appropriate shoes and insoles.

Socks

Wearing the correct socks is crucial for people with hyperhydrosis. Sock technology has advanced tremendously over the past decade. Many socks now have special properties that wick moisture away from your feet and prevent bacteria from growing. SHOES-n-FEET® has a large selection of socks, and we can help you find the right ones. More information on socks.

See your foot health professional

If the above measures are not effective, you should see your podiatrist. They have a number of treatments available to help prevent sweaty feet problems. For example, there are prescription antiperspirants made especially for the feet.