It’s the sweaty season – summer! Most people experience sweaty feet occasionally especially when the heat and humidity are on the up and up. However, some individuals seem to have above-normal sweaty, stinky feet. I’ll explain why everyone’s feet sweat, how to stop your feet from becoming smelly, and how to cope with excessive foot sweating.
How Many Sweat Glands are in the Feet?
There are about 250,000 sweat glands in a pair of feet, more sweat glands than in any other part of the body. In normal sweating, all these sweat glands in the feet are busily producing about half a pint of perspiration every day.
Why is Sweat Necessary?
Sweating is normal and essential for the following reasons:
- Heat regulation – sweating wets the skin’s surface and cools the body.
- Excretion – sweating helps rid the body of excess water and salts.
- Protection – because sweat is slightly acidic, it helps protect the skin from bacteria.
- Skin quality – sweat helps to stop the skin from drying out and keeps it supple.
Why Does Sweat Make Feet Smelly?
Sweat doesn’t smell bad when it’s produced. Odor occurs when sweat remains on the skin instead of evaporating. Sweat can also soak into footwear like gym shoes with non-breathable linings. Bacteria get to work breaking down the sweat, producing the characteristic smell which you probably remember from school locker rooms.
How can I Prevent my Feet from Being Stinky?
Fortunately for you and those around you, with good foot hygiene, your feet can remain largely odor-free. Here’s what to do:
- Wash your feet at least once each day with soap and warm water and dry thoroughly, paying close attention to the skin between the toes.
- Keep your toenails short and clean.
- Remove any hard skin from the soles of your feet – it can become soggy when damp and allow germs to grow.
- Use an antifungal foot spray or powder
What are the Best Socks to Prevent Smelly Feet?
- Wear wicking socks made of natural or acrylic fiber blends that draw moisture away from your feet. Cotton socks should be avoided as they absorb moisture but don’t wick it away from the skin.
- Put on fresh socks each day and change them after any form of exercise that has made you sweat.
What are the Best Shoes to Prevent Smelly Feet?
- Avoid footwear made from synthetic material that doesn’t “breathe.”
- Don’t wear tight-fitting shoes – shoes should allow air to circulate. If your shoes get sweaty, change to a fresh pair. Alternating and airing insoles can also help.
What is Excessive Sweating?
Abnormal, excessive sweating is a condition called hyperhidrosis. It’s more common in men than in women, and tends to affect younger adults over older ones. Individuals whose feet sweat excessively often also have problems with excessive sweating of the palms. According to the International Hyperhidrosis Society, about five percent of the population suffers from hyperhidrosis.
Why is Excessive Foot Sweating Bad?
- Increased foot dampness increases the chance of contracting foot infections like athlete’s foot. If the foot receives a cut, other infections may result.
- In individuals with other foot conditions, like diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, and peripheral arterial disease, excess sweating increases the chances of getting ulcers or contracting a severe skin infection called cellulitis.
- Because of embarrassing foot odor, people, especially younger ones, may become socially isolated.
What Causes Excessive Sweating of the Feet?
No one knows exactly why hyperhidrosis occurs, but it’s believed to be an inherited problem. Most people sweat when they become warm or when it’s hot outside, but individuals with hyperhidrosis sweat excessively almost constantly. Some hyperhidrosis sufferers sweat so profusely that their feet slip around inside their shoes.
When to Visit a Podiatrist
If your feet sweat a lot, see a podiatrist. A podiatrist can help you control this distressing condition. Treatment options may include roll-on antiperspirants, prescription medications, or iontophoresis – a treatment that uses electrical stimulation. So, if your feet are embarrassing you by sweating profusely, come see us at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle. We promise you we won’t be embarrassed to look at your sweaty feet.