Perspiration or sweating is a healthy bodily function as it helps the body to expel excess water and toxins and regulates body temperature. Each foot alone has over 250,000 sweat glands. The glands on the feet normally produce almost a cup full of moisture every day. People who sweat excessively, however, can produce more sweat than this. Excessive sweating
is a condition known as Hyperhidrosis.
Moisture produced by the feet does not easily evaporate, normally because many people wear closed toe shoes. The excess sweat leads to build up of bacteria which causes smelly feet
and encourages growth of fungi which can cause athlete's foot. Individuals suffering from hyperhidrosis often face many challenges. Fears such as removing shoes in public, a feeling of isolation, and inferiority complex are common grievances of individuals with Hyperhidrosis. Even wearing a pair of flip flops can become impossible. Although there is a bad stigma associated with Hyperhidrosis
, three percent of the world population suffers from the condition. Sweaty feet are often not the only problem, although it is heavy to have wet feet the entire day in shoes.
Problems that are often associated with sweaty feet are:
Cold feet: Caused by sweat evaporation
Unwell feelings: Too much sweat between the toes is unpleasant
Bad grip in sports: Too much sweat reduces grip
Reduced blood circulation: Caused by cold feet
Sore feet: Caused by rubbing without socks in high heels or sandals
Athletes foot: Fungus grow well in warm and humid environments
Fungus infection of the nails: Caused by the same reasons as for athletes foot
Bad smell: Bacteria feed on moisture and cause the bad smell
Sweaty Feet: What You Can Do
For people with hyperhidrosis, there are a number of things that can be done to reduce the sweating and accumulation of bacteria that cause smelly feet.
Fight your sweaty feet with iontophoresis:
Sweaty Feet: What The Doctor Can Do
Sometimes treatments do not work and the symptoms persist. It is sometimes hard to say I have excessive sweating, but it is wise to seek medical advice. You can visit your general doctor or you can see a podiatrist who is an expert at feet problems. The remedies they give are more of a semi to permanent nature and they give very useful advice. Iontophoresis machines
, developed in the 1950s is a treatment available in most hospital physiotherapy centers. Iontophoresis used to be difficult to obtain but now it is possible to get the treatment in many hospitals. The treatment for iontophoresis involves standing in a tub of water as a small current of electricity is passed through for 30 to 40 minutes. At first, the treatment takes a lot of time since it has to be done every few days by a doctor eventually, the treatment only needs to be done once every 3 to 4 weeks. One can get a home kit to carry out the treatment at home. It is advisable not to use your own home made kit to avoid electrocuting yourself. Side effects of iontophoresis may include skin tingling, redness, irritation and a burning sensation. Iontophoreses treatment is not safe for pregnant women and people who have heart pace makers.
Another treatment method is the use of Botulism toxin. Botulism toxin injections are one of the most effective ways of dealing with healy sweaty feet but, the disadvantage is that you have to repeat the injections every few weeks and that the injections may hurt. When injected into your feet, botulism toxin blocks signals from the nerves that activate sweat glands and cause sweating. The treatment can be uncomfortable some dare have up to 36 injections of this toxin and extremely sensitive skin areas of the soles of patientís feet may be involved. Furthermore, it is a relatively new established treatment, and it is not readily available at your local clinic, so you may need to do some research to locate places where the treatment is available.
Anti-cholinergic drugs are available and are fairly effective and work by blocking the nerves who are mainly responsible for severe sweating. The side effects of anti-cholinergic drugs include dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation and sedation which are maybe much worse than having sweaty feet. The drug propantheline bromide is available by doctor's prescription but glycopyrronium bromide, also available has fewer side effects.
The last option would be a sympathectomy, which is a surgical operation that destroys the connection of nerves who aim to be responsible for hyperhidrosis of the feet. A sympathectomy is not highly recommended because of the numerous side-effects which can occur. Sympathectomy operations can destroy more nerves than necessary.
Other related tips for sweaty feet:
To start with, getting the right pair of socks can help. Nylon socks and shoes which have synthetic material linings, like most tennis shoes, prevent the sweat from evaporating and this creates a breeding ground for bacteria. It is advisable to get socks that are at least 60% to 70% woolen and 30% to 40% synthetic material; cotton socks are not very absorbent, and socks made of 100% wool can feel very clammy. A better solution when sweaty feet are causing additional foot odor is to wear socks with silver fibres. Silver is well-known for killing bad smelling bacterias. There are a variety of socks available on the market that effectively absorbs sweat. Socks that absorb sweat effectively include bamboo fiber socks, antibacterial socks, and sports socks that offer ventilation and whisk the sweat away (from the feets) like Adidas' ClimaCool socks. It is best not to wear socks that are too tight and to wear a fresh pair every day. Also, wearing two pairs of the right socks, especially when walking or training, can help absorb sweat. When it comes time to wash the socks, they should be cleaned in diluted antiseptic and left to dry naturally.
If sweating is only mild, you can use a deodorant foot powder, which is more comfortable than using corn starch to absorb the sweat. Regular antiperspirant spray can also be used. If sweating is heavy, you can get a foot antiperspirant spray such as Perspi-guard, which is high in aluminum chloride. Alternatively, you can use a 20% aluminum chloride solution mixed in pharmacies, but it is extremely important to use it correctly. If you decide to use the solution, wash and dry your feet and apply the solution when lying in bed - do not forget to apply it between the toes. Allow the solution to dry naturally and wash it off in the morning. Apply the solution every night until the problem is reduced - this usually takes 3-4 days, and then continue using it twice a week. Do not use the solution if you suspect you have an infection or sores on your feet.
Along with the right pair of socks, get the right pair of shoes. Most shoes are lined with synthetic material. Get shoes which do not have an inner lining or shoes which have natural fiber lining. Then, get some insoles that are washable for all of your shoes and be sure to wash the insoles every day. Avoid wearing your shoes two days in a row and try not to wear trainers over a long period of time since they are made of a synthetic outer casing that does not allow evaporation. Simply use e.g. the nozzle of your vacuum cleaner to prevent dried sweat from forming or clean the inner side of the shoes with alcohol.
Take care after your soles and feet
Remove the hard dead skin on your feet with a pumice stone after a foot bath in warm water. Bacteria usually breeds on dead skin found on the feet. Wash or soak your feet in hot, maybe more than handwarm water every day with a little tea tree oil addition. Tea tree has anti- bacterial properties. Always dry your feet carefully. Maybe it is worth a trial and you can use black tea to put your feet in for 20 to 30 minutes every day. Its main ingredients is tannic acid which can help dry the skin. If you use tea, boil 2 teabags for 10-20 minutes and add 2 liters of normal (not hot) tap water. After your feet have been soaked, dry your feet thoroughly. You can also wipe your feet daily with soft alcohol or disinfectant solutions, but remember to stop before you get skin irritations. Remember to wipe in between the toes because bacteria hides there.
Constantly check toes and feet for fungal infections like athlete's foot. Athlete's foot appears mostly red and wet. To treat fungal infections, you may use antifungal spray which may be a more effective option than antifungal powders. Even if the infection appears to have cleared, use the antifungal for ten extra days to avoid re-infection. If you realize that the soles of your feet are whitish and slimy and appears to have small pits with a pungent smell, then it is possible that an infection is on its way, which could be an indication of pitted keratolysis. For this condition, you may need to visit the doctor for antibiotics. It is a condition often contracted by soldiers in humid areas who wear boots the whole long day.
General Information about sweaty feet
The human nervous system is divided into two areas: the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system. The somatic nervous system is responsible for the voluntary control of our bodily movements, while the autonomic nervous system mainly controls the involuntary bodily functions, such as breathing and production of sweat. Sweating is a normal biological function of our body that helps to regulate the body's temperature; however, an imbalance in the sympathetic system of the autonomic nervous system can lead to excess production of sweat and lead to a condition known as Hyperhidrosis
Hyperhidrosis is generally localized to areas such as the feet and the hands - and then categorized as a focal hyperhidrosis, and can become a serious problem if not treated correctly. The human feet have over 250000 sweat glands and hyperhidrosis of the feet can result in these sweat glands producing more sweat than required. Also known as plantar hyperhidrosis, some of the symptoms of this condition include the feet becoming almost constantly wet. This can cause loss of grip while walking and saturated shoes and socks, which can lead to problems such as sores, fungal infections and odor.
Although the exact reasons for the occurrence of plantar hyperhidrosis are unknown, it is generally considered to be hereditary. In other words, if any member of your family or relatives has this condition, there is an increased likelihood that you will have it too. Other probable reasons for the occurrence of plantar hyperhidrosis include excessive intake of spicy food, caffeine or alcohol and not maintaining proper personal hygiene.
Plantar hyperhidrosis is generally not considered, a very serious medical condition and its impact is restricted to sweaty and smelly feet, slipping due to excess sweat and damage to socks and shoes. Women who are suffering from sweaty feet might find it difficult to wear footwear, such as sandals and heels. Lack of proper care to treat plantar hyperhidrosis can, however, lead to serious conditions such as athlete's foot, fungal infections and bacterial infections. A number of treatments are available to effectively control and cure the condition of sweaty feet. Washing the feet daily with cold water and using an antibacterial soap on the feet is highly recommended to prevent accumulation of bacteria. It is essential to completely dry the feet before wearing socks and shoes to ensure that there are no damp areas between the toes where bacteria can grow. The use of antibacterial powder and antiperspirants can often brings about the desired results.
To further prevent the problem of excessively sweaty feet, you should take considerable care while shopping for your socks and shoes. Generally, shoes and socks that are made up of synthetic material result in production of perspiration and bacteria, thereby leading to exacerbation and worsening of this condition. Good shoes out of full natural leather can prevent bad odors and sweaty feet (mild conditions), for severe sweaty feet this is mostly not enough and the production of sweat must be reduced, or the sweat has to be absorbed through the footwear, special anti-smell inlays soles and absorbing sock materials.
The first, but in many cases, not effective enough way of controlling plantar hyperhidrosis is by using a topical maximum strength antiperspirant or cream.
An effective means of controlling excessively sweating feet is by undergoing iontophoresis therapy and this treatment is effective even in the most severe cases. Iontophoresis is a non-invasive procedure that utilizes tap water and mild electrical currents which prevent the nervous system from over producing sweat.
There are a number of other treatment options for plantar hyperhidrosis as well, such as the use of herbal medicine and acupuncture; however, these options have not been scientifically proven. In the case of a severe condition, you can also opt for surgical methods to treat the problem of sweaty feet.
Sweaty feet, or plantar hyperhidrosis, is a treatable condition, and a little care and precaution will significantly help you in treating and/or preventing this condition from occurring.