You Can Mingle With Friends Again. Your Sweaty Feet 101 Is Here

sweaty feet

Some of us have sweaty feet and some of us do not. The medical name for this condition is hyperhidrosis (hyper-hi-dro-sis). No idea why the dog picture is relevant, but fun :) (adapted from here)

Commonly seen in teenage boys but it can be seen in just about anyone, especially:

  • when people do not wear the right shoes, or
  • socks,
  • they work in an excessive job- like the postal service,
  • hot and humid days naturally produce sweating.

What happens is that there is an inadequate reduction in water evaporation in response to sweat generation which comes from eccrine glands in the skin.

Ermm...the body is trying to cool down- a normal natural response and sometimes it can just get excessive :)

Each foot has well over 250,000 sweat glands and normally produces a little over 200 mls of sweat per day. Typically for most people the sweat evaporates quickly, but for others the sweat is trapped within the glands, which allows bacteria to grow. This can be a problem if a person has more than the normal amount of sweat glands in their feet and is prone to excessive sweating.

Unfortunately you can get toes like this:

sweaty feet

What happens with this picture is that sweating has become a problem.

When you get an excess of anything the body just doesn't like it (you can even get an excess of dryness). What happens is that the mechanics of the skin change and causes the strength of it to decrease- making it easily breakable.

Usually occurring inbetween toes where it is damp and moist already, the skin goes white- macerates, and then you can get Athletes Foot which is secondary to the initial sweating.

When you have broken skin or even damp conditions you have the potential of other things to occur. Bacterial infections and build up are common, and cause the classic smelly foot.

A sweaty rash is also possible- this is where you get tiny bumps, which can be itchy, coming as a secondary response to duct blockage.


There are various reasons why our feet sweat. Although the condition is most commonly brought on by:

  • emotional stress
  • physical exercise
  • heredity is said to play a role, as individuals with sweaty feet commonly share their affliction with their families.
  • your toxicity levels can also cause your feet to sweat. Toxins originate from foods we eat that are high in saturated fats. Alcohol is also a toxin. If you do not exercise often, these toxins can build up and cause your feet and other parts of your body to sweat.
  • your feet may also be sweating due to the type of footwear you use. Certain footwear—such as nylon and cotton socks, or shoes made of plastic or some type of synthetic fabric lining—prevent sweat from evaporating. Nylon and 100% cotton socks can act like a sponge and lock moisture in.
  • excess sweating may also indicate a possible medical disorder: hyperthyroidism and Diabetes to name a few.

7 Ways To Reduce Sweaty Feet

Obviously if you suspect something, see a Doctor. But the following are helpful deterrents to those sweaty feet.

1. Sweat absorbing insoles. These can be bought over the counter at any drug store. However just remember to change them as they won't last forever.

2. Change your footwear regularly. This is especially so when you incorporate different jobs and working styles. So for example, we see postal workers whose feet get very sweaty, but just changing their footwear daily and letting the footwear dry out (all the way into the toe box) has helped to reduce high sweat build up. So for this you need 2 pairs of footwear.

3. Change socks and hosiery daily, also making sure that they are made out of natural fibers which tend to let the feet breathe a little bit more. Keeping the same damp socks on never helps. Change them mid-day if needed.

4. Apply astringents. This can be in the form of rubbing alcohol put inbetween toes. It can sting so be careful, but maceration inbetween your toes clears up quite well. Some people in the past have used Potassium Permanganate foot baths. The problems with these is that even though they work well, they tend to give your feet and especially your nails, a purple tinge.

5. Use antiperspirants. These work to actually reduce the sweating in the first place. Deodorants on the other hand tend to reduce smell and kill of some bacteria because of the alcohol content.

6. Make sure the type of material in your shoe is good. This can affect true Vegans, but again natural materials, leather and cotton, tend to put the feet into a better environment rather than rubber, plastic or cotton which tend to make sweating worse. Also shoes that have been treated to keep water out will not necessarily allow your feet to breathe.

7. Before you put socks or slippers on from having a shower, make sure that you dry them thoroughly first and then just let them "air" for 5 minutes.

7a. Some people have reverted to Botox injections to reduce really excessive sweating

Click away from sweaty feet to the Q&A page.

The medical information on the web site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

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About Dominic Hough

Hi. I'm Dominic. I treat patients every day at a local clinic. I am a trained Chiropodist and I care about prevention. I designed the website to help readers understand treat and even prevent issues from happening to their feet.