Whether it’s an occasional nuisance on a hot afternoon or a problem we wrestle with each day, we’ve all experienced sweaty feet. The feeling is not pleasant: slipping around in sandals or peeling off wet socks after an intense workout. Angela Ballard, a registered nurse and advocate with the International Hyperhidrosis Society, explains that the feet have the highest concentration of sweat glands (roughly 125,000 on the sole of each foot) of any body part. That’s even more than in your armpits. She says that your feet can produce around a half-pint of perspiration daily, and much more if you suffer from hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating.
Foot sweating isn’t just uncomfortable. It can cause more serious problems, like fungus and bacterial infections that thrive in the warm, moist environment of a sweaty shoe. In extreme cases, there are medical treatments like Botox injections that can stop sweat at the source. If you’re dealing with a less serious problem, however, there are steps you can take at home to prevent and treat the issue. Read on for more advice from Ballard, three podiatrists, and a dermatologist.
Washing your feet daily with soap and water should be your first step in both preventing and treating sweat. “For people who have hyperhidrosis, I recommend they wash their feet at least twice a day and completely dry them with paper towels before putting on socks,” says podiatrist Isaac Tabari. He says anti-bacterial soaps are especially effective at killing the odor-causing bacteria that often goes hand in hand with excessive perspiration.
Just as you apply antiperspirant to your armpits to stop sweat, Ballard and all of the doctors we spoke with say you can use the same products on your feet. Podiatrist Alex Kor recommends looking for ones with aluminum chloride, which plugs up sweat glands. Certain Dri is one of the most powerful antiperspirants available over the counter (it’s often recommended for heavy sweaters) and features the highest percentage of aluminum chloride you can get without a prescription. Twice a week, wash and dry your feet and apply the antiperspirant on your soles.
As an alternative to a roll-on antiperspirant, dermatologist Amy Wechsler likes these antiperspirant wipes that also contain aluminum chloride and are easy to use on your feet. “It’s marketed for underarms, but they can be used anywhere on the body,” she says. “You apply it at night before you go to bed, and then it helps the next day.”