Excessively sweaty feet can lead to some big problems. Some people just have mildly sweaty feet, but others find that sweaty feet greatly impact their quality of life. This is often the case for people who have primary focal hyperhidrosis, a condition in which people sweat excessively from specific parts of the body - including the feet. Many people with sweaty feet struggle with staining and destroying shoes, have difficulty wearing sandals and flip flops, have trouble walking barefoot, and constantly need to wear absorbent socks. Even worse, people whose feet are constantly exposed to moisture are at risk for foot conditions like Athlete’s foot, skin maceration, infections, and irritation. This is why it is imperative for people with excessively sweaty feet to find a way to kick their sweat and get control of the problem.[1]

Natural Ways to Manage Sweaty Feet

Sometimes excessive foot sweating can be managed with natural methods and lifestyle changes. There are some practical things you can do, which won’t reduce the amount you sweat, but will help you to manage things better and prevent some of the complications that come along with sweaty feet. Here are some things you can do to manage your sweaty situation:

  • Wash your feet frequently. While washing your feet won’t stop you from sweating, it will reduce your risk of infection, keep skin from getting irritated, prevent odor build up, and prevent bacterial growth. Ideally, you should aim to wash your feet twice a day if you have been sweating in your shoes for an extended period of time. It is also beneficial to use certain products while you wash your feet. These can include antifungal products, certain essential oils, epsom salt to soothe feet, and of course, soap.
  • Soak your feet is a black tea bath. It is suggested that you fill a basin with warm water and add two tea bags to soak your feet in. It is thought that the tannins in black tea affect your sweat glands in such a way that it stops them from producing as much sweat. This method isn’t scientifically tested, but it may be worth a try!
  • Wear the right socks and shoes. Certain sock materials are good for sweaty feet, while others are not. For example, it is a good idea to avoid cotton socks, while materials like merino wool and athletic socks with moisture wicking technology are better for keeping sweat away from the skin. The material your shoes are made of are also important, leather or mesh athletic shoes are best as they allow your feet to breathe.
  • Alternate your shoes and change socks often. It might be worth it to invest in two pairs of shoes that you can alternate every other day. This allows each pair to dry completely before you get them wet again, it will also prevent shoe damage and break down from being as severe. It is also a good idea to keep an extra pair of socks with you and to change your socks any time your feet become completely soaked. This will keep your feet and skin healthier.[2]
  • Over-the-Counter Treatment Options

    One of the most helpful tools for people with sweaty feet are over-the-counter products. Over-the-counter topical treatments for hyperhidrosis called antiperspirants are the most essential. Antiperspirant is the first-line treatment doctors recommend for hyperhidrosis because they treat the problem at a local area and they effectively prevent sweat glands from producing sweat. Many people have success with over-the-counter antiperspirants, but antiperspirant is available by prescription if a higher strength is needed.[1] There is also a type of soothing treatment called foot powder. Foot powder is a powder that you apply to dry feet which absorbs excessive sweat and soothes irritated skin. When used in combination antiperspirant and foot powder can bring much relief. Finally, antifungal powder is suggested if you think you may have athlete’s foot.[2]

    Medical Treatments for Sweaty Feet

    For some people, especially those with hyperhidrosis, lifestyle adjustments and over-the-counter options might not be enough to control their foot sweat. Luckily, there are several effective medical treatment options available. Most doctors suggest that patients try over-the-counter and prescription antiperspirants before moving on to more intensive treatments. Once a patient has exhausted these options, however, doctors have many options that they can try in order to eliminate foot sweating and to improve patients quality of life. Here is a breakdown of the available treatments, from minimally invasive techniques to highly intense surgical procedures:

  • Iontophoresis: Iontophoresis is a type of therapy that uses the passing of an ionized substance through intact skin by application of a direct electrical current to stop the body from producing as much sweat. While this sounds complicated, the procedure is quite simple and it doesn’t hurt the patient. Iontophoresis is used to treat palmar (hand) and plantar (foot) hyperhidrosis and is one of the least invasive hyperhidrosis treatments available. When used to treat sweaty feet, a patients is given two trays of water to place their feet in which are connected by electrical wires. A machine pulses small electrical currents through the water and through the skin of the patient’s feet which greatly reduces the amount of sweat they will produce. The procedure needs to be repeated a few times a week to maintain results. Iontophoresis has been found to be highly effective and many people use it as a part of their weekly routine.
  • Botox Injections: Botox injections can reduce the skin’s ability to produce sweat and they have been approved as a treatment for axillary hyperhidrosis by the FDA. While botox is not specifically approved for the treatment of plantar hyperhidrosis, many people have had a significant reduction in symptoms when it is used. Typically, a doctor will assess the problem area, in this case that would be the feet, and then inject botox into the skin in a grid like pattern. The results from botox injections will usually last for several months making it a convenient treatment method.
  • Oral Medications: There are oral medications that can reduce the amount of sweat people produce, however none of them are specifically approved by the FDA for the treatment of hyperhidrosis. Most of the time doctors recommend that patients receive local treatment whenever possible, but medication can be useful for certain patients. Anticholinergics are the most common type of medication that doctors prescribe for people with hyperhidrosis, these include medicines like glycopyrrolate and oxybutynin. Sometimes, other types of medications are used like beta blockers, anti anxiety medications, and clonidine.
  • Surgery: A type of surgery to treat sweaty feet called endoscopic lumbar sympathectomy is available. However, it is almost never recommended because the side effects from the surgery can be catastrophic. If you are sweating to the point where you are considering this type of surgery it is best to try the other available treatments or combinations of those treatments rather than undergoing a risky procedure. While it is similar to endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy, the risks are much higher.[1]
  • Sources
    1. Pariser, D. M. (2014). Hyperhidrosis (4th ed., Vol. 32). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier
    2. Leonard, J. (n.d.). What causes feet sweating? Retrieved June 3, 2019, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322578.php