What causes my feet to sweat and smell?

Hyperhidrosis or Plantar Hyperhidrosis (sweaty feet) and bromohidrosis (smelly feet) are annoying and sometimes embarrassing conditions, that tend to occur quite often. Hyperhidrosis is not a temporary condition. Most of the people who are affected by these ailments have suffered for many years, usually since childhood.  Many clients come in and their general cry is “my feet sweat a whole lot and oh gosh de smell.” After a long day of wearing whole shoes, even in the air-conditioned office, you feel that moisture in the footwear. As for field workers, the blazing sun is a killer to the feet…the smell is horrible! Usually persons who suffer from sweaty feet have sweaty hands and armpits as well.

Our loved ones are the people who often suffer as a result of this foot problem. They have to deal with the backlash of shoes being removed after a long day, and the odour is usually outrageous. Many wives come in with their husbands begging for a quick solution to “their” problem…really their husband’s problem. Sometimes the hyperhidrosis can be so severe that drops of sweat actually run off the foot; and the shoes get damp, and moldy. It is this type of situation that leads to foot odour.

Causes of Sweaty Feet or Hyperhidrosis

  • Our climate is a perfect environment for bacteria to thrive. Since our feet are so important; walking, running or as basic as standing is virtually impossible without them. Due to the overwork, they sometimes sweat, and in some cases smell.
  • Bacteria are the major contributors along with the fact that each foot has over 250,000 sweat glands. The tiny particles reside in the moisture and the dark conditions. They then spread quickly resulting in infection of the whole area.
  • Sweaty feet can be caused as well through some hormonal disorders.
  • It can be hereditary – that is, it runs in the family.
  • Nervousness …think about going to a job interview, a social function or to meet someone new and you notice that your hands and underarms are sweating. Or, you’ve just completed an aerobic workout and your whole body is soaked in sweat. Your body’s Sympathetic Nervous System naturally secretes sweat to cool down the body. But, in some cases, up to 1% of the population has excessive sweating, whereby the Nervous System overworks to cool down the internal body temperature. This scenario explains hyperhidrosis.



Dealing with Sweaty Feet or Hyperhidrosis

These steps would help to control the sweating:

  • Interchange your shoes. It also helps with the odour.
  • Use an antibacterial wash to help contain the bacteria; it’s key.
  • Wear quality socks such as cotton, which are absorbent, fungistatic and bacteriostatic. Also, there are special knits made for athletes. If possible change socks at midday when the sweating is excessive.
  • Wash shoes or insoles. Some footwear, especially sneakers, may be washable – a great way to kill odour and get them clean-smelling again. Be sure to dry them thoroughly before wearing again.
  • At home, keep your feet clean so that they can get air.
  • Shoes should not be too tight. They may sweat even more.
  • Put your shoes out in the sun as much as possible.
  • Avoid shoes made of plastics and some other man-made material. They don’t allow your feet to breathe.

Dealing with Smelly Feet or Bromohidrosis

You may not be able to eliminate odour completely. But if sweat is minimised you’ll be able to mimimise the odour. There are two types of bromohidrosis, the idiopathic (unknown origin) which is the most common one. The other type is the pathological form which may result from diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or even a lesion of the central nervous system. Here are some solutions which you may try:

  • Keep your shoes on when you’re in public, like at school, or riding in a car, to avoid embarrassment if you’re worried about the odour.
  • Get a good shoe deodoriser for sanitising your footwear overall; not only your shoes.
  • Purchase detachable insoles for your shoes so that you can wash them daily. This will not only help you getting rid of sweaty feet, but will also help with the wear and tear of the shoes, as it is the insoles that would absorb the moisture and not the shoe.
  • Avoid wearing nylon socks and stockings as they don’t allow the feet to breathe. Make sure you change them daily, and once worn, do wash them as this will minimise the chances of bacteria breeding and making your feet more smelly.
  • Soak your feet in two quarts of warm water containing two tbsp of Epsom Salts. It will help to keep your feet dry and clean.
  • Use a reputable absorbent powder during the day. Baby powder is not recommended.




Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!

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