You’ve heard about—or may have experienced—the challenges of parenting hyperactive kids or dealing with ADHD yourself, but did you know that your sweat glands can be hyperactive too? The condition is called hyperhidrosis, and it can cause some uncomfortable and embarrassing problems in your feet and the rest of your body.
The brain directs all the functions in your body, including when you perspire. When it is hot, or you are exercising, or even when you are nervous or anxious, it tells your sweat glands to get busy so they can have a cooling effect and regulate your body temperature.
Sometimes it doesn’t get things quite right, though. Whether the cause is genetic or linked to some other condition or environmental factor, hyperhidrosis means that your sweat glands are hyperactive, performing their job even when there is no need for it.
Your Sweaty Feet
Another thing you may not know is that your feet don’t have oil glands like the rest of you to help keep the skin supple. They rely instead on hundreds of thousands of sweat glands for moisture. That’s why your feet are more prone to issues when sweat glands are overactive.
Excessive perspiration in feet can lead to some unpleasant problems. The primary one is wetness—damp feet, damp socks, damp shoes—but these can lead to other issues:
- Smelly feet – The sweat itself does not have an odor. Rather, the bacteria that is present on your skin feeds on the moisture, and the gases they release can have an unpleasant smell.
- Fungal infections – Microscopic fungi thrive in warm, damp conditions, so when your feet are extra-sweaty, you may be more prone to athlete’s foot and fungal toenails.
- Cold feet – The purpose of sweating is to cool you down, so too much of it can actually chill your feet to the point that you are uncomfortable.
- Embarrassment – It can be emotionally uncomfortable to have dampness and foot odor in social or work situations.
Finding The Cause
Primary hyperhidrosis may be due to hereditary characteristics, as the symptoms often run in families.
When there is a medical condition that results in excess sweating, it is called secondary hyperhidrosis. Some of these underlying causes could be medications, menopause, low blood sugar levels, an overactive thyroid gland, diabetes, cancer, Parkinson disease, or events such as a stroke or heart attack.
We can perform certain tests to check for medical issues, as well as to evaluate the severity of your problem and pinpoint the locations. This helps us determine the best way to treat your feet.
Treatments for Hyperhidrosis
There are several lifestyle remedies you can try such as bathing the feet every day, using antiperspirant on your feet, changing socks often or wearing a moisture-wicking pair, wearing shoes of natural materials and letting them dry at least 24 hours before wearing again. In addition to these physical habits, try relaxation techniques to head off anxious thoughts that could trigger the reaction.
When you come to our office for help, we may first try prescription-strength antiperspirants for your sweaty feet. These plug the sweat glands and keep the skin drier, but may irritate it or stain your socks. Certain medications that control perspiration can also be tried, but they may have undesirable side effects. A procedure called iontophoresis uses a foot bath with a gentle electric current to turn off the sweat glands temporarily. This therapy would be repeated several times. In severe cases, surgery to cut a nerve that triggers perspiration may be an option.
Berkeley Podiatrist Can Help Treat Sweaty Feet
When you’re ready to find answers for the embarrassment of damp feet and foot odor, call Yuko Miyazaki, DPM at (510) 647-3744 and let us examine you and find out why you are having issues. You can also schedule your visit at our Berkeley, CA office online. Then we can work together on solving them, so your feet—and your life—are more comfortable.