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Life in a puddle: plantar hyperhidrosis (sweaty feet)

Do you sweat more than what seems normal, even when you're not hot or exercising? If so, you may be one of the millions of people who suffer from a medical condition called Hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating.


While the exact causes of hyperhidrosis are not fully understood, it is known that the nerves supplying the sweat glands are overactive. This may be triggered by various factors, including stress, hormonal imbalances, or genetic predispositions. In some cases, the excessive sweating occurs without any apparent reason, making it even more challenging to manage.


The Struggle of Sweaty Feet

Excessive sweating in the feet is called plantar hyperhidrosis. feet have a very high concentration of sweat glands, with over 250,000 sweat glands per foot. In those with plantar hyperhidrosis, the sweat glands produce far more sweat than is needed to regulate body temperature.

Imagine waking up every morning with damp, clammy feet, even before starting your day. This uncomfortable, soggy feeling persists throughout the day. This is the reality for those living with plantar hyperhidrosis.


The constant dampness can lead to a host of issues, from skin irritations, blisters, fungal and bacterial infections to an unpleasant odour that can be socially embarrassing. Wearing certain types of footwear, like sandals or open-toed shoes, may become a challenge, due to fear of leaving damp footprints or slipping out of the shoes.

The Emotional Toll

Beyond physical discomfort, plantar hyperhidrosis can take a significant emotional toll. The constant self-consciousness and anxiety surrounding sweaty feet can lead to social withdrawal and a diminished quality of life. Simple activities that many take for granted, such as walking barefoot or trying on shoes in a store, can become sources of stress and embarrassment.


Finding Relief: Treating hyperhidrosis

Fortunately, there are several treatment options available for those seeking relief from plantar hyperhidrosis.


Lifestyle modifications can help mitigate discomfort. Copper or silver impregnated socks work against bacteria to prevent infection. Bamboo and charcoal insoles help wick moisture away and have some anti-bacterial properties.  Regularly changing shoes and alternating shoe days will allow the shoe to dry out between wear.


Strong antiperspirants – GP’s can prescribe strong antiperspirants containing aluminium chloride, or you can buy them in pharmacists or online such as SweatStop, Forte Max and Driclor. These are usually applied in the evening and washed off in the morning. After 2 weeks of use, the sweating is usually considerably reduced.  


Iontophoresis is a process that uses mild electrical currents in water to temporarily disable sweat glands. At least 4 sessions are usually needed over a period of weeks. Some people purchase their own Iontophoresis machine to use at home.


Medications are available that block the chemical reaction at the end of the nerve to stop the sweating. In severe cases, Botox injections or surgical interventions may be recommended by healthcare professionals.


Raising Awareness

Despite its prevalence, plantar hyperhidrosis remains a relatively unknown and often stigmatized condition. By raising awareness and fostering open conversations, we can help those affected feel less alone and more empowered to seek the support and treatment they deserve.


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