According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), there's no solid explanation on why hyperhidrosis occurs. Because it tends to happen all the time—whether you're actually hot or not—it's thought to be something that's inherited, eventually giving the feet a whitish and wet look. Unfortunately, whether you're just super-sweaty or you actually have the condition, that wetness is a slippery slope toward additional problems. "Sweaty feet can be inconveniencing and the catalyst for other feet issues, like odor and infections," says Dendy Engelman, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist.
On top of the physical symptoms, the APMA says the constant worry about your feet sweating or stinking could majorly mess with your mental health, too—maybe even more so than it does physically—causing emotional stress, anxiety, and even isolation. Luckily, there are plenty of different ways you can take on the issue. You can try these natural methods you can do right in the comfort of your own home. Here are six ways to help stop—and control the side effects of—sweaty feet.
How to prevent sweaty, smelly feet
1. Change your socks often and grab some antifungal powder
When you have sweaty feet, the once-a-day sock change just isn't going to cut it. Instead, carry around an extra pair for a midday swap to help with the wetness—and prevent fungus. "Excess moisture can cause tinea pedis, or athlete's foot, and socks can trap bacteria against the skin," Dr. Engelman says. "Utilizing antifungal powder—such as Zeasorb AF—and changing your socks once in the middle of the day helps. The powder will absorb moisture, and new socks will keep your feet clean and dry."
The type of sock you choose matters, too. According to the APMA, you'll want to make sure you're choosing sweat-wicking options that are made of natural or acrylic fibers—something that helps keep your feet dry instead of trapping in moisture.
2. Wash your feet on the daily
Even if you don't shower every day, washing your feet is a must. The APMA says your best bet in helping with the sweating is cleaning your feet with an antibacterial soap, making sure you get between your toes. Then apply either cornstarch, foot powder, or antifungal powder after making sure your feet are completely dry.
3. Utilize your essential oils
Give your tea tree and eucalyptus oils a break from the diffuser and put them to good use on your feet. "Sweat helps bacteria flourish and grow. Tea tree and eucalyptus oils have antibacterial properties and are best for those who wish to reduce foot odor, which develops from the waste products of excessive bacteria on the feet," Dendy says. Another good choice? Neem oil. "It's a natural anti-inflammatory and antiseptic, which makes it a perfect choice for those prone to athlete’s foot. It helps kill the fungus that causes athlete’s foot, and when combined with karanja oil, it provides additional conditioning to soften and smooth the feet," she explains.
4. Choose breathable footwear
Your socks are super important in helping with sweat, and so is your footwear. "Your socks and shoes should help the foot 'breathe,' and certain materials will absorb moisture instead of trapping it against the skin," Dr. Engelman says. "Look for cotton and avoid polyester or lycra. Sandals will allow moisture to evaporate, as opposed to boots or leather shoes that trap in moisture."
5. Give yourself an ACV foot bath
Another great way to combat the fungus that tends to come hand-in-hand with sweat is through an apple cider vinegar foot bath. According to Dendy, just combine one cup apple cider vinegar with four cups of water and soak your feet for 15 minutes before rinsing and drying. "Apple cider vinegar's antiseptic properties help deodorize rank odor and disinfect feet. Plus, its antifungal attributes prevent and combat fungal conditions like athlete’s foot," she says.
6. Use shoe inserts
According to the International Hyperhidrosis Society, shoe inserts can be super helpful in absorbing moisture, preventing those embarrassing slips. And the good news is you can cut them down to fit whatever you're wearing, whether they're sandals, your favorite pair of heels, or some knee-high winter boots. And the top-recommended one to go with? Summer Soles, which were made with hyperhidrosis sufferers in mind and even contain essential oil fragrances for odor. With these quick tips, you'll be sweat- and odor-free in no time.
What to do if you still have sweaty feet
1. Consult a pro
One of the most important things to do in any given case of sweaty feet is to consult with a doctor, who can help you identify the triggers that are causing your specific dampness. If you suspect that you might have hyperhidrosis that is affecting your feet, the APMA says to book an appointment with a certified podiatrist who can do a starch-iodine test. They'll first apply iodine to your feet and then sprinkle on corn starch. If your feet turn blue that could mean that you have excessively sweaty feet.
2. How to deal if you do have sweaty feet
While everyone wants low-lift options, sometimes the best course of action can truly be to apply something like an antiperspirant to feet daily so that you can chemically suppress the sweat that is accumulating on your soles. Likewise, while it's an off-label (meaning not FDA-approved technique) some doctors will inject the soles of feet with Botox to help prevent sweating. And of course, you can also do the basics like wash your feet when you get home, powder them in close-toe shoes, and seek professional help if you feel like your feet are sweating beyond what they usually do.
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