How to Prevent and Deal with Sweaty Feet, According to Podiatrists

From the best socks for sweaty feet to sweat-absorbing products, here's everything you need to keep your feet comfortably dry.

Woman sitting on floor getting dress putting on socks.
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Sweaty feet might not be the most glamorous topic, but you've likely experienced the issue at some point in your life — and it's just no fun. The feeling of damp or even sweat-soaked socks can be uncomfortable and distracting, so figuring out how to prevent the issue is worth a little research.

If sweaty feet feels like a TMI subject, no need to try to crowdsource advice from your friends. Keep reading to learn how to deal with sweaty feet, what causes sweaty feet in the first place, and when to touch base with a doctor. (

What Causes Sweaty Feet?

You're probably already familiar with the most common causes of sweaty feet. Closed-toed shoes, hot temperatures, stress, or nervousness, are the main culprits, explains Emily Splichal, D.P.M., a New York-based podiatrist. "Your feet work hard for you all day," adds Deanne Robinson, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist. "[Feet] are oftentimes trapped in socks and shoes that don't allow for a lot of airflow."

If you experience sweaty feet on occasion due to any of the above culprits, such as hot temperatures, you don't need to view it as a major health concern. However, there is a rarer cause of sweaty feet called hyperhidrosis, which affects roughly two to five percent of the U.S. population, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Those who have the condition experience excessive amounts of sweat in areas such as the armpits, face, hands, or feet, notes Miguel Cunha, D.P.M., a New York-based podiatrist and founder of Gotham Footcare. (Think: Your socks become drenched even when you haven't exercised or exposed yourself to hot temperatures.) "People who have hyperhidrosis sweat to the point that moisture may literally drip from their feet," says Cunha.

Typically, hyperhidrosis results from a medical condition, such as diabetes, cancer, thyroid disease, menopause, or certain medications, explains Cunha. It can also sometimes be a heredity medical disorder, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

How to Stop Sweaty Feet

If you've determined that you're dealing with a mild and acute case of sweaty feet, there are a few measures you can take to eliminate the swamp foot feeling.

Wear socks made with breathable fabric.

Splichal recommends switching to socks and shoes made of breathable fabrics. "Breathable socks allow heat and moisture to circulate away from your feet which helps regulate your body temperature and reduce sweating," agrees Cunha. The best socks for sweaty feet are made from moisture-wicking materials, such as merino wool, nylon, or polyester, and shoes made from canvas or mesh materials are idealas these fabrics are intended to dry quickly and move (or wick) the sweat off of skin. "Avoid fabrics such as cotton, which retain heat and can increase the degree of foot sweating," advises Splichal. Another tip? Don't be afraid to keep an extra pair of socks handy,that way you can change them during the day if your feet get too sweaty, adds Cunha. (

Maintain feet hygiene.

If you're not already, start washing your feet daily with good ol' soap and water, says Dr. Robinson. "Be sure to thoroughly dry your feet, including between the toes, before putting socks and shoes on," she adds. Keeping things dry is especially important because moist skin combined with enclosed spaces, such as shoes, can increase the risk of bacterial and fungal infections, like athlete's foot, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Buy products that absorb sweat.

Once your feet are dry, you can apply products designed to absorb sweat, for extra assurance that your feet will stay dry throughout the day. "Apply cornstarch, anti-fungal powder, or an antiperspirant deodorant onto your feet to absorb sweat and prevent the formation of athlete's foot (a condition that causes scaly, itchy, and red skin), which is common when your feet sweat excessively," says Cunha. In addition, various foot sprays, which are sprays made with odor-neutralizing ingredients, baking powder, or other medicated ingredients meant to keep feet dry throughout the day.

If you're someone with sweaty feet, chances are you're also dealing with a smell at times too. "Sweat on its own doesn't smell," says Dr. Robinson. "It's the interaction of sweat with the bacteria on your skin that creates the unpleasant odor we associate with sweaty feet." In other words, taking these steps to prevent sweaty feet will also help you avoid stinky feet, as well. (

When to Consult a Doctor About Sweaty Feet

If your feet aren't responding despite your best efforts to manage the sweat or if the sweating is excessive and frequent, consider visiting a board-certified dermatologist or a podiatrist for additional support. Additionally, if you notice peeling, pain, or an odor in addition to athlete's foot or excessive sweating, it can be a sign of infection and requires medical attention, says Splichal. "Excessive sweating of your feet is diagnosed by your podiatrist, based on your symptoms and physical examination of your feet," says Cunha. The treatment for excessive sweating, including hyperhidrosis, can include prescription antiperspirants, Botox injections, or oral prescription medications, he says.

Bottom line? Sweaty feet aren't something to be ashamed of and there are several steps you can take to control excessive sweat production.

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