Sweaty feet are the result of sweat glands that are over productive resulting in excessive perspiration. Excessive perspiration is called hyperhydrosis. Sweaty feet are most common in adolescent children and young adults. Each of us has a set point for our metabolism. This set point is somewhat like the thermostat in our homes. Some folks have a higher set point than others and subsequently are more prone to perspire. In many cases, sweaty feet and hands are due to anxiety, stress, hyperthyroidism, hypoadrenalism or excessive fluid intake. For others, sweaty feet are just a sign of their natural metabolic set point.
Disorders of the sweat glands are commonly grouped into a category of conditions referred to as dyshydrosis. Hyperhydrosis, or excessive perspiration, is a type of dyshydrosis. Bromhydrosis is the term used to describe the odor associate with sweaty feet. The distinctive odor of smelly tennis shoes is actually caused by bacteria helping to decompose the perspiration and dead skin cells on the foot and those that are left in the shoe.
Causes and contributing factors
There is no known cause for sweaty feet but possible causes may include anxiety, stress, hyperthyroidism, hypoadrenalism or excessive fluid intake. Contributing factors include use of shoes made from synthetic materials.
The differential diagnosis of sweaty feet includes:
Remember, when treating sweaty feet, the condition can not be cured, but rather needs to be managed over time. Some of the methods used to treat sweaty feet are really quite simple. Create an environment in the shoe that is cool, dry and accessible to UV light. Try these four simple tricks;
1. Rotate your shoes every day to allow them to dry thoroughly over the course of 24 hours.
2. Avoid synthetic materials like rubber or vinyl, wear leather or cloth that can absorb moisture.
3. Frequent changes of socks to wick away moisture.
4. Use a drying agent to decrease perspiration.
5. Treat your shoes with an antibacterial/antifungal spray on a weekly basis.
6. Use an antibacterial/antifungal soap on a daily basis.
Severe cases of sweaty feet can also be treated with injections or surgery. Injections of Botox, or attenuated botulism, have been used very successfully by dermatologists to control sweaty feet. Botox is used to paralyze the smooth muscle that regulates the sweat gland. Endoscopic excision of the dorsal root ganglion is a method used by neurosurgeons to create surgical anhydrosis (absence of perspiration) by surgically removing that component of the nervous system responsible for autonomic functions.
When to contact your doctor
Consult your podiatrist or primary care specialist for more information on the treatment of sweaty feet.
References are pending.
Author(s) and date
Competing Interests - None
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Cite this article as: Oster, Jeffrey. Sweaty Feet. http://www.myfootshop.com/article/sweaty-feet
Most recent article update: December 22, 2015.
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