Why are my feet so sweaty?
The body is complex, and designed with its own cooling system to prevent overheating. At birth, a person can have anywhere between 2 and 4 million sweat glands—250,000 of those are in the feet! Nerves signal the body’s sweat glands to cool the body down when stimulated by activity, hormones, heat, or stress. Rarely, the body overreacts to or acts in the absence of these stimuli, and sweating of the hands, armpits, and feet becomes excessive. Though typically not a dangerous condition, plantar hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating of the soles of the feet, can impact a person’s quality of life and promote secondary skin issues.
Hyperhidrosis can affect the whole body, or in this case be localized to one area. Overactive eccrine glands are part of the issue, but it is unclear what causes this foot condition. It is thought that it can be passed from one generation to the next. Other factors that seem to be related are: anxiety, spinal injuries, certain odors, heat, and foods such as chocolate.
Help, my socks are wet! How will this affect my feet?
The average person’s feet can produce up to a cup of sweat per day. Now imagine the amount of moisture a person with plantar hyperhidrosis might create. The result is discomfort and often strong foot odor.
No one enjoys damp socks, and this is just one of the unavoidable parts of this condition. Chronic wetness can also begin to affect the appearance and condition of the skin on the feet. Sufferers might notice whiteness, wrinkling, and sometimes inflammation of the skin. Common fungal infections can also be promoted with this type of warm, moist environment, so there is a higher risk of toenail fungus and athlete’s foot.
Can excessive sweating be caused by other conditions?
Yes, generalized and local sweating can be attributed to serious medical conditions, so it is very important that you see your doctor to rule out these illnesses. If you have other symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, or a fever you should seek medical attention right away.
To diagnose excessive sweating of the feet, blood tests, urinalysis, an iodine-starch test, and “paper” tests may be run. Podiatrist Lawrence Kales will use the iodine-starch and paper tests to determine if the amount that you are sweating is excessive. Other tests will help the doctor to rule out any other illnesses that could be the cause of the issue.
What treatments are available for plantar hyperhidrosis?
The first round of treatment will generally involve topical creams or ointments that are focused on drying the sweat glands. Antiperspirants can also be used successfully in some cases. These can be prescribed, or purchased over-the-counter.
Beyond these surface therapies, typical treatments focus on quieting sweat glands and nerves involved in the affected area. For instance, botox can be effective in stopping transmissions from the nerves to the sweat glands. Another more painful treatment involves electric currents that shock the sweat glands, and over time decrease sweat production.
Podiatrist Lawrence Kales understands that excessive sweating of the feet can cause frustration and embarrassment. He and his friendly staff at the Spring Hill, FL and Hudson, FL locations will help you determine the best treatment for this condition. Make an appointment on our website today.