Sweaty Feet: The Mind Body Clinic Tips
Excessive sweating of the feet is a condition known as hyperhidrosis, which can be a result of overactive sweat glands.
Almost all of us have suffered from sweaty feet and odour now and again, but for some it can be a persistent problem. Sweaty feet can be embarrassing, but more importantly, it can become uncomfortable.
Unusually excessive sweating of the feet is a condition known as hyperhidrosis, which can be caused from overactive sweat glands.
Hyperhidrosis can be caused by mechanical stress on the foot. This may be due to a structural problem, or because the foot is under strain or tired. Hot weather can make matters worse, although this can be a winter as well as a summer problem. Smokers can suffer from sweaty feet too and sweaty feet can also be an inherited condition. In adolescents, excessive sweating of the feet may be caused by over-active sweat glands triggered by changing hormone levels in the body. The sweat glands on the soles of the feet (and the palms of the hand) respond mostly to emotion. Stress is also a common cause.
Hyperhidrosis can be a result of a mechanical stress on the foot from either a structural problem, or because the foot is tired or under strain. In adolescents, excessive sweating of the feet is quite normal and is usually associated with over-active sweat glands triggered by changing hormone levels in the body. In later life, a number of different triggers can exist. The condition can be inherited, but it can some times be caused by environment, too. Hot weather can often make matters worse, however, the problem can continue through winter. Smoking can cause sweaty feet, and stress is a common cause as the sweat glands on the soles of the feet, as well as the palms of the hand, respond to emotion.
What to do
Follow a daily foot care routine:
- Wash your feet in the morning and evening with warm soapy water – avoid very hot water.
- After washing, dip your feet in cold water.
- Dry feet thoroughly with a clean towel, especially between the toes.
- Apply surgical spirit to affected areas once or twice daily, depending on severity, using cotton wool.
- Always wear socks with your leather shoes, and change your socks at least once a day. Socks which absorb moisture well, like wool, cotton, silk or bamboo, will also help. Always wash your socks before using them again.
- When at home expose your feet as much as possible to fresh air, and wear sandals in the summer.
- Keep a journal of sweating episodes and look for patterns. This can help to identify foods, situations, or emotions that trigger foot sweating. It is then possible to take steps to limit or avoid these triggers.
- Apply antiperspirant. The American Academy of Dermatology recommend applying antiperspirant to dry feet before bed and washing it off in the morning. People should repeat this for another 3 or 4 consecutive nights and then switch to using it once or twice a week.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water, especially on hot days or when exercising, helps to regulate body temperature and reduce the likelihood of sweating.
Well-fitting shoes made of leather or Gore-tex, which allow your feet to ‘breathe’ might help to prevent sweating. As insoles or the uppers of shoes absorb a lot of sweat, don’t wear the same pair every day and allow them to dry out before wearing them again (24-48hrs). Detachable insoles are also a good idea.
Trainers can aggravate sweaty feet and worsen the problem.
Potassium Permanganate Crystals
- Using Potassium Permanganate crystals dissolved in water may help to dry the feet.
- Use a couple of small crystals dissolved in a bowl of warm water, enough to turn the water pale pink.
- Soak your feet in the water for 10 minutes.
- Take care, if you use too many crystals it will make your skin and nails turn a brown colour.
- Potassium Permanganate crystals can be obtained from your Pharmacist.
The reaction between the skin’s natural bacteria and the sweat may cause a bad odour. This can be prevented with a good daily foot care routine and medicated insoles e.g. Odor-Eaters / antibacterial insoles which have a deodorising effect.
There is also a greater risk of minor skin infections, such as athlete’s foot, caused by fungal infections, or blisters due to friction. This can help to be prevented by using breathable shoes, anti fungal powders, or corn starch, which is a good alternative to anti fungal powders and can keep the feet dry.
In summary, it is important to follow a good foot care routine, identifying and eliminating factors that can aggravate the hyperhidrosis to leave your feet feeling as fresh and dry as possible.
The Mind Body Podiatry & Chiropody Clinic
As a new patient to our clinic, you will be asked to complete a form to provide details of your medical history. Following this, your podiatrist will do a variety of tests that are non-evasive and pain-free. Visual observations will be made on your feet and shoes to check for indicators of your lower limb health. We will then suggest a working diagnosis and a care plan which may be treated on the spot or it may involve the production of an insole, regular visits or a follow up appointment. Should you need a referral to radiography (x-ray), an orthopaedic or podiatric surgeon, or a follow-up letter to your GP, our podiatrist will do this.