So you've noticed that your feet seem to sweat much more than others, and as a result, they often smell quite unpleasant. Why is this happening to you and what should you do about it? Today, your local podiatrists at South Burnett Podiatry are talking all about sweaty and smelly feet.
Why do my feet sweat so much?
The soles of our feet contain a lot of sweat glands - approximately 250,000! Sweating through these glands in our feet is a completely normal way of our body working to regulate our body temperature. Unfortunately, for a small percentage of Australians, this doesn't just happen during exercise or when we're feeling excessively hot, but constantly. We call this hyperhidrosis and it is a medical condition where we can't control or regulate excessive sweating, which may happen all through the day.
The cause behind this hasn't been pinpointed in research - some people just produce more sweat than others. There is a tendency for this trait to run in families, indicating a genetic component is likely involved. Hormonal changes or imbalances, stress, anxiety and emotional disturbances can also affect sweat production. Generally speaking, the amount you sweat through your feet can also be increased by exercise and spending long days in hot or enclosed shoes.
And the smell?
While sweat itself doesn't have a particularly strong odour, when it's mixed with the microbes (bacteria, yeast, fungus) on our skin or dirty shoes and socks, the smell becomes very noticeable - and then is amplified as the sweating continues.
There's a bit of a catch 22 here too - if you're sweating excessively through your feet, you may be more vulnerable to an Athlete's foot fungal infection. If you have Athlete's foot, the smell from your feet will worsen.
White, wet skin? Watch out!
You know that look when you stay in the bath for too long and your skin turns white? While this is completely fine as a 'here and there' occurrence, when excess sweating is causing your skin to remain constantly wet, this can cause skin damage. Damaged skin is more likely to develop bacterial infections, painful spots or sores, and be more irritable.
What should I do to help my sweaty feet?
To best help your feet, it's important to keep as much moisture away from the feet while addressing any problems, like Athlete's foot or bacterial infections, that may have already developed. We recommend:
- Cleaning your feet well, using an antiseptic soap
- Drying your feet thoroughly. Make sure you move your towel between your toes to stop the skin macerating (breaking down) between the toes as these spots are often missed. If you cannot reach your feet, place a soft towel on the ground and scrunch it beneath your toes
- Wear socks that wick moisture away from the feet. Avoid cotton socks that trap moisture in their fibres
- Opt for open shoes as much as possible and if safe. For example, if you have diabetes, it is important to keep your feet protected, so enclosed shoes may be best. In cases like this, it is always best to discuss your options and make a plan with your podiatrist to help you get the best results
- When wearing enclosed shoes, try not to wear the same pair two days in a row. Instead, place the pair from that day in a dry and airy environment to allow them to dry properly. This way, you're not wearing the same moist shoes two days in a row
- Keep an extra pair (or two) of moisture-wicking socks on you to change into throughout the day
Getting the best results for your feet
While following the tips above can help create a better environment for your sweaty feet, we highly recommend booking an appointment with your podiatrist. This is as sweaty feet - and the consequences on your feet like skin damage, infection and pain - don't have a one-size-fits-all solution and should be tailored to your circumstances, symptoms and feet.
Book your appointment with our podiatrists in Kingaroy by calling us on 07 4162 7633.