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Treatment for Sweaty Feet

Sweaty feet dilemma? Learn why sweaty feet are a problem, how to manage them, & sweaty feet treatment options. Learn more from the sweat experts today!

Wondering how to stop sweaty feet? One of the most common causes of excessive foot sweating is called hyperhidrosis.[1] Let’s take a look at what hyperhidrosis is and explore the options for those who are facing sweaty feet caused by it.

A Look at Hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis is a condition that causes excessive sweating. While, on the surface, excessive sweat may not seem like a big deal, this condition can be life-changing for those who have it. Most of the time, sweaty feet are caused by primary focal hyperhidrosis, the most common type of hyperhidrosis..[1]

If you are wondering how much your feet should sweat in a day because excessive foot sweat is interfering in your life then you most likely have a problem. While everyone sweats at some point or another, there is usually a reason for it - like fever, exercise, or hot weather. When someone has hyperhidrosis, their body doesn’t need that kind of stimuli to begin sweating heavily. It sweats excessively on even when there are no stimuli because it has overactive sweat glands.[2]

People with hyperhidrosis have the same size and number of sweat glands as anyone else and their sweat is made of the same products, but they produce a lot more sweat. There are various causes for excessive sweating but whatever the cause it is a big inconvenience.[1]

The feet are frequently affected by hyperhidrosis. You will experience excessively sweaty feet, and for some people, you might find your hands are often sweaty as well. In addition to these locations, you may also experience craniofacial (face and head) hyperhidrosis, axillary (armpit) hyperhidrosis and excessive sweating of the groin.[1]

It’s easy to see why someone would experience excessively sweaty feet when they have hyperhidrosis because feet contain 250,000 sweat glands.[1]

Why Are Sweaty Feet a Problem?

Although sweaty feet aren’t life-threatening, they can cause a number of problems for people who suffer from hyperhidrosis. These problems give many affected by hyperhidrosis anxiety and can impair a person's quality of life.[1]

Let’s examine all the reasons sweaty feet can be an issue.

  • Sliding:A simple pleasure, such as wearing flip flops in the summer, can turn into an ordeal for someone with hyperhidrosis. The flip flops turn wet from sweat and can cause the wearer to slip and slide around on them.
  • Smelly feet:Wet shoes can easily become smelly shoes. Sweaty feet lead to all kinds of odors in your shoes because the sweat encourages bacterial growth. This can be extremely embarrassing, whether you’re in the locker room at school, changing at your local gym after an exercise class, or kicking off your shoes in order to cuddle up with your significant other and watch a movie at home.
  • Foot infections and rashes:Having constantly sweaty feet can lead to rashes and infections such as athlete’s foot, yeast infections, nail fungus, and warts. These conditions can be uncomfortable, and over time, can be expensive to treat, especially if they keep recurring.
  • Extra money for replacements:All that excessive foot sweating can cause your shoes to break down faster than they ordinarily would. Plus, if they smell bad, you’ll want to replace them anyway. That can become expensive after a while.[1][3]

How to Stop Sweaty Feet

There are treatments you can seek out to stop sweaty feet and their odor. However, there are also ways to manage hyperhidrosis at home when it is primarily affecting your feet. One of the simplest ways to deal with sweat is to find clothes and shoes that aid people who sweat excessively.

  • Avoid wearing shoes that are too tight:Tight footwear will just make your problem worse. Not only will your feet be sweatier, but they’ll be rubbing against the ends and sides of your shoes too. This can cause skin irritation. In order to tell if shoes are loose enough, give them a wiggle test. If your toes aren’t free to wiggle around in your shoes, then they are too tight.
  • Wear breathable shoes:When wearing athletic shoes, look for a pair that has breathable mesh on the upper part of the shoes. That will allow air to circulate better in your shoes and help your feet dry out a bit. Breathable fabric can go a long way in preventing sweaty feet.
  • Try to alternate shoes:If you’re a heavy sweater, you should have two pairs of shoes you can alternate on a day-to-day basis. This will allow the shoes to dry between usages, which should help cut down on the smell.
  • Use odor eaters:Putting a pair of inserts into your shoes can help keep them fresh longer. It’s cheaper to spring for a pair of inserts than it is to buy a whole new pair of shoes.
  • Use powder:To help fight moisture, you can use foot powder on your feet before putting on your socks and shoes. Once you understand the ins and outs of applying foot powder, it can be an easy and helpful part of your daily routine.
  • Choose your socks carefully:The best sock material for sweaty feet is breathable and keeps moisture away from the skin. You might want to consider some moisture-wicking socks to wear, either on their own or underneath another pair of socks. Look for socks made for runners – they absorb sweat well and dry quickly. Merino wool socks are another good choice for sweaty feet.
  • Give your feet time to breathe:When you’re at home, don’t wear shoes at all. This will help your feet breathe after spending time in shoes all day while you’re at work. This will also ward off fungal infections.
  • Wash your feet twice a day:Because of all the sweat they are producing, your feet are at a greater risk of having athlete’s foot and other fungal issues. Washing your feet with antifungal foot washes may help you avoid some of those fungal complications. After you wash them, dry them thoroughly, including between the toes. Sometimes there is confusion about whether athlete’s foot causes excessive sweating, but it is actually the other way around as sweating often worsens athlete’s foot.[1]

Medical Sweaty Feet Treatments

If you’re wanting to do what you can to stop sweaty feet from happening instead of only minimizing symptoms, you have a few options that will help.

Antiperspirant

The most commonly prescribed sweaty feet treatment is antiperspirant. When you want to make your armpits less sweaty, you turn to antiperspirants - the same theory applies to your feet. Using antiperspirant is one of the easiest ways to control foot sweat.[1]

Antiperspirant is an inexpensive and easy way to cut down on that soggy sock feeling. It’s simple to apply and over-the-counter topical treatments for hyperhidrosis can be bought almost anywhere.

Before consulting a doctor for a prescription-strength antiperspirant, you should try an over-the-counter brand to see if it’s strong enough to help you. It can be challenging to choose the right over-the-counter (OTC) antiperspirant so it is important to learn about the ingredients and strengths before investing in a specific brand. An OTC antiperspirant might be enough to get the job done, especially when combined with some of the moisture-control methods we discussed earlier. A big reason you might want to try out OTC options before asking for the clinical-strength stuff is that it is generally less irritating on the skin.

To make sure your antiperspirant is doing all it can for you, put it on at night at bedtime. This works because people with primary hyperhidrosis don’t produce sweat while they sleep. This will help antiperspirants stay on so it can be more effective. There are specific methods to remove antiperspirant from skin if that has become an issue for you.[1]

If you are in the 10% of hyperhidrosis sufferers who don't’ have primary focal hyperhidrosis, you most likely have secondary hyperhidrosis.[4] This means you don’t want to apply antiperspirant to sweaty feet at night because you may be sweating more heavily then. If this is the type of hyperhidrosis you have, your best bet is applying the deodorant right after you wash your feet. Just make sure to thoroughly dry them first.

If antiperspirant is helping somewhat, but you’d still like to pursue another treatment to keep your sweaty feet at bay you may need to manage your hyperhidrosis with a doctor. [5]

Iontophoresis Machine

An alternative treatment for sweaty feet is to use iontophoresis as a treatment for palmar and plantar hyperhidrosis. Iontophoresis is a procedure in which a machine that sends mild electrical currents through your feet is used. The mild electrical currents cause your feet to sweat less. This procedure will take you several sessions before it begins to offer relief from sweaty feet – it can be as many as 10 before you see maximum results.

During an iontophoresis session, a machine will deliver low-voltage currents of electricity into a pan of water in which your feet are resting. Each session for your sweaty feet will take about 30 minutes.[1]

This isn’t a foolproof method of reducing sweat, but iontophoresis really does work for most of the people who use it. Your sweaty feet might not completely disappear, but you should experience noticeable relief. After your initial sessions cut back some on the sweat, you’ll just have to do maintenance sessions whenever you notice the sweat production starting to ramp up again. For some people that may be every few days, but for others, it might be a couple of weeks between sessions. If you are struggling to make it work, there are some specific things you can do to make iontophoresis more effective.[1]

While it is an effective treatment for many, the cost can be prohibitive to some people. However, if you find yourself replacing your shoes frequently because of your sweaty feet, buying a machine will still save you money in the long run. The cost of hyperhidrosis in general can be hard for many people to handle, but iontophoresis is typically a good investment.[5]

Botox Injections on the Soles of the Feet

Botox is another treatment for plantar (feet) hyperhidrosis. It can be used for more than just softening the appearance of wrinkles. When used on the soles of the feet by an experienced professional, it can provide temporary, but fairly long-lasting, relief from sweaty feet. [6]

Medications

Certain types of oral medications – those known as anticholinergics – may be used as a sweaty feet treatment. They are typically only used for those who haven’t had any luck with antiperspirants, iontophoresis, or Botox. Often, doctors use anticholinergic medications called glycopyrrolate or oxybutynin to treat excessive sweating.[1]

While these medications can reduce sweat, they can be unpredictable when it comes to how much they help any particular site. They could drastically cut back on one location of excessive sweat, while not helping another location much at all.[6]

They can also cause side effects. People looking for relief from sweaty feet should look at their other treatment options first before turning to medication. [6]

What About Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy Surgery?

Although surgical treatments for primary focal hyperhidrosis can sometimes be used as a last resort for people suffering from palmar (hand) hyperhidrosis, it isn’t recommended for sweaty feet.[1]

There is a procedure called endoscopic lumbar sympathectomy, but the benefits of the surgery do not outweigh the risk. So while you may hear about ETS surgery being sometimes used to treat hyperhidrosis, it shouldn’t be explored as an option for treating sweaty feet.[7]

Sweaty Feet Can Be Managed

Sweaty feet can be a big nuisance, and they can develop complications such as athlete’s foot. It will take some attention on your part, but you can help stop the sweat by using the sweaty feet treatments discussed in this article. You may be able to manage the symptoms of hyperhidrosis at home or you may need to learn about managing hyperhidrosis with a doctor but you can find strategies to lessen the impact of sweaty feet.

With attention and treatment, your sweaty feet can be more nothing more than an inconvenience rather than a full-blown issue.

Sources
  1. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Amsterdam: Elsevier Pub. Co., 2014. Retrieved from https://www.elsevier.com/books/hyperhidrosis-an-issue-of-dermatologic-clinics/pariser/978-0-323-32607-0
  2. Huddle, J. R. (2014). Hyperhidrosis: Causes, Treatment Options and Outcomes. New York, NY: Nova Science. Retrieved from https://www.bookdepository.com/Hyperhidrosis-Janine-R-Huddle/9781633215160
  3. Nordqvist, C. (2017, December 21). Hyperhidrosis: Symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment. Retrieved May 14, 2018, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/182130.php
  4. Two Types of Hyperhidrosis. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sweathelp.org/home/types-of-hyperhidrosis.html
  5. Kamudoni, P., Mueller, B., Halford, J., Schouveller, A., Stacey, B., & Salek, M. (2017, June 8). The impact of hyperhidrosis on patients' daily life and quality of life: A qualitative investigation. Retrieved May 21, 2018, from https://hqlo.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12955-017-0693-x
  6. Melissa A. Doft, MD;, Jeffrey A. Ascherman, MD, & Krista L. Hardy, BS. (2011, July 8). Treatment of Hyperhidrosis With Botulinum Toxin. Retrieved May 21, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22328694
  7. Reisfeld, R. (2010). Endoscopic Lumbar Sympathectomy for Focal Plantar Hyperhidrosis Using the Clamping Method. Surg Laparosc Endosc Percutan Tech, 20(4), 321-236. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20729691
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