What causes sweaty feet?


Having sweaty feet isn’t something that people often want to talk about, but everyone can suffer from them. Although it can seem localised to certain areas of the body, such as your feet, armpits and palms, there are in fact sweat glands over most of your body. These areas are the ones most likely to be noticed, as they have such a high concentration of these sweat glands, so when you start to sweat excessively.

What are the symptoms & causes of sweaty feet?

Our bodies’ production of sweat starts with the brain sending signals along your nerves towards the sweat glands in the skin to control the body’s temperature, or in response to emotional triggers such as fear and excitement. Another symptom of sweaty feet are excessive smell, whitened appearance and also a difficulty in gripping your shoes. The odour is caused by bacteria which emerge in humid and warm conditions in the shoe. There are no guidelines for what ‘normal’ sweating is, but if it is interfering with your daily life, and if you feel self-conscious, this may be classed as excessive. Whilst we know that this is triggered by an involuntary part of the nervous system, the exact cause of excess sweating is still unknown.

Two Tricks to Avoid Foot Odour

There are more sweat glands in the feet than anywhere else, which is why you are more likely to notice foot perspiration if you’re on your feet all day, as the sweat collecting in your shoes become a perfect habitat for bacteria.

There are a few tips you can work towards preventing foot odour:

  • Care for Your feet

Try not to put socks or shoes straight on wet feet after showering, and don’t forget that an antiperspirant can block sweat anywhere; regularly spray some of Scholl’s Fresh Step Foot Spray on your feet before putting on socks. It’s always important to establish a foot-care routine, but if you suffer from foot odour, a daily foot-care routine becomes essential. Get in the habit of washing your feet daily, and using an anti-bacterial soap. Home remedies can also have a slight benefit; lavender oil smells wonderful and can help kill bacteria. Rubbing a few drops onto your feet before bed can work wonders overnight and your feet will thank you in the morning.

  • Right Footwear

In severe cases, changing your socks 2 or 3 times a day and replacing them with a clean pair each time can potentially help. Consider wearing sport socks that are designed to absorb moisture. Alternate between 2 pairs of shoes and store them somewhere where they can get plenty of light and are well ventilated and make sure that the inside of your shoe is dry. Bacteria thrive in warm dark wardrobes and cupboards, so allowing your shoes to air out can free them from bacteria and can help to reduce unwanted odours.

Make sure that you’re wearing the right shoes for your feet, in both fit and material. This applies to socks as well – go for synthetics rather than 100% cotton. Make sure you wash your shoes regularly, and wear them on rotation, allowing them to dry out between uses. Foot odour can sometimes be an indicator of other problems, such as fungal infection, so it’s a good idea to use anti-fungal sprays and powders as a precautionary measure.

Changing your lifestyle and daily activities is unlikely to get rid of sweaty feet completely, but it can improve your symptoms and bring confidence back into your life. Many of the prevention methods can also work as treatments. Creams, disinfectant sprays and shoes or socks made out of breathable materials are all good ways to treat and prevent foot odour.