Tiny drops of perspiration dropped from my hands due to brisk walking while my friend was literally drenched in sweat from head to toe. Her feet skidded against the hard surface where we were walking even though she was wearing a wonderful pair of walking shoes and socks. On enquiring I got to know that she suffers from hyperhidrosis.
Sweaty feet are common and most of us have experienced it some time or the other, especially during summer or after a gym workout. Rarely, a small proportion of the population suffers from excessive sweating to the point that sweat literally falls off their feet or palms due to no valid reason. Medically termed as hyperhidrosis, this condition is present in almost 3% of the population more commonly among men than women and targets the younger population more often than elderly people. Individuals with sweaty feel also suffer from sweaty palms.
Sweat is the body’s way of cooling down and is an essential element in life. Sweat glands produce sweat that makes itself visible on the skin when the surrounding temperature rises, due to fever, exercising, stress or nervousness. In the absence of any of these factors the sweat glands are rested. But hyperhidrosis is sweating that happens even when the body does not require cooling at that point of time. Strangely, these people sweat even while seating inside an air-conditioned room or swimming in the pool! Though harmless mostly, people experiencing it are often embarrassed and troubled being among groups of people.
Till today we have not been able to track down the cause of hyperhidrosis, but it is generally said to be inherent. Still, it can be managed with the tips given here:
Stock the Right Socks: Choosing the right material socks can help you greatly. Go for cotton socks during summer and woolen ones during winter avoiding nylon socks as they never absorb sweat. Sporting outlets sell moisture-wicking socks that can help you take away moisture from the skin. Some socks also come with chemicals that help reducing bacteria on the feet. Always have a spare pair of socks to change into when required. This helps to keep your feet fresh.
Wear the Right Shoe: Buy shoes made of leather or canvas to accommodate proper airflow. Avoid plastic-based ones. It is better to wear shoes that have insoles, specifically those that are absorbent or deodorizing. This helps to avoid foot odor and also excess moisture.
Change Shoes: Don’t wear the same pair of shoes on consecutive days. Switch between pairs as this gives enough time for the shoes to dry. Leave it under the sunlight for some time.
Maintain a diary: Every time you feel that you sweat excessively on the feet write it down in a diary. Also think of the day’s episode rewinding on the foods you ate, activities you did and the situations that you encountered looking for a definite pattern that triggers such excess sweat every time. In case you find one, it is better to avoid/reduce these triggers.
Drink water: Stay hydrated with water, specifically after exercising or on a hot day to maintain body temperature and reduce bouts of excessive sweating episodes. Know how much is the right quantity of water needed for your body with the help of www.firsteatright.com.
Use Foot Deodorants: Our feet contain more sweat glands per inch than any other part of the body amounting to more than a lakh on each foot. There are various foot deodorants stocked in shoe shops or available online which are an easy way out to combat sweaty foot as they block sweat glands temporarily. You can try applying it before going to bed and wash it off in the morning. These deodorants can also be sprayed to your feet before wearing your shoes. Anti-fungal powders can also be used to keep away odor and also help our feet stay dry.
Wash your feet: Wash your feet thoroughly in water along with some antifungal soap or essential oils at least once or twice a day. Wipe off water from the feet using a dry towel especially between the toes to prevent bacteria and fungi from thriving. Apply some antifungal powder before putting on your socks.
Try out iontophoresis: This technique uses water to pass current through the skin of the feet blocking sweat temporarily. A small study showed a positive effect of using this technique where around 88% participants showed reduced sweating on their hands and feet after undergoing this therapy. Only concern is that the results are temporary and the individual needs to repeat it at least once a month.
When any of the above don’t yield positive results, it is better to meet a podiatrist who specializes in managing sweat in your body. The doctor first confirms the diagnosis using a small starch test where he/she applies some iodine solution on the feet. After this, the physician applies some cornstarch over the feet and waits for the color change. When the skin turns dark blue it indicates an excessive amount of sweat. Once confirmed, the doctor might suggest antiperspirants, medications or Botox treatment which is not a permanent solution but relieves the individual for at least 9-12 months. Also, leading a healthy lifestyle eating nutritious foods can minimize foot odor to some extent.
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