Spraying feet with plantar hyperhidrosis

What is Plantar Hyperhidrosis?

Plantar hyperhidrosis is a disorder characterized by excessively sweaty feet. It often accompanies Palmar Hyperhidrosis, severely sweaty hands. It is estimated that up to 3% of the population is affected by plantar hyperhidrosis, with the condition typically starting during childhood or adolescence. 

The effects of hyperhidrosis of the feet can have a serious impact on the quality of life for those living with the condition. The most common side effect of this condition is a general feeling of discomfort due to sogginess in socks and shoes as a result of excessive sweating. Additionally, those that experience excessive sweating of the feet may find that they need to purchase shoes often due to their sweating, and may even have to avoid certain types of footwear, like flip flops, altogether. Further, those with plantar hyperhidrosis may have chronically cold feet due to their sweating, and many sufferers will avoid walking barefoot around others for fear of leaving damp footprints.

Cause of Plantar Hyperhidrosis

As with palmar hyperhidrosis, Plantar Hyperhidrosis is caused by hyperactive sweat glands in the feet in response to stressful situations, increased temperatures, and other instances. In some cases, there will be no apparent reason for the excessive sweating to occur, and the onset of sweating episodes will be abrupt and without warning. Everyday activities may excessively stimulate the sweat glands in the feet leading to unusually sweaty feet.

Sweaty feet with plantar hyperhidrosis running in sneakers and socks

Symptoms of Plantar Hyperhidrosis

  • Excessively sweaty feet
  • Bilateral and symmetrical sweating
  • Slipping easily out of flip-flops and sandals because of extremely sweaty feet
  • Shoes are easily ruined because of salt minerals from sweat
  • Frequent foot infections such as Athlete’s foot or toenail fungus
  • Friction blisters
  • Strong odor
  • Whitish coloring of the feet

How is it diagnosed?

In most cases of plantar hyperhidrosis, excessive sweating of the feet is not tied to any underlying condition. A diagnosis of hyperhidrosis feet is typically made based on the history and frequency of excessive sweating of the feet. Your doctor may recommend a series of tests to pinpoint the feet as a location of excessive sweating and determine the severity of the disorder.

Plantar Hyperhidrosis Treatment Options

There are a variety of therapies available to treat plantar hyperhidrosis including antiperspirants, iontophoresis, Botox®, and combination therapy.

  • General measures – Simple measures can be taken to limit the impact of plantar hyperhidrosis on daily life. Such measures include wearing multiple layers of white, cotton socks to better absorb sweat. Further, drying shoes regularly will help increase their life span.
  • Antiperspirants and topical treatments – Used to prevents sweat from reaching the surface in hands, feet, and underarms.
  • Oral medications – Medication may be used as a short-term solution for plantar hyperhidrosis. Commonly prescribed medications include anticholinergic tablets, glycopyrrolate, propranolol, gabapentin, and clonazepam. In most cases, medications will be prescribed for a few days to weeks to provide temporary relief from sweating.
  • Iontophoresis – The best treatment for sweaty feet. It utilizes a mild electric current through water to reduce hyperactive sweat glands.
  • Botox® – Temporarily binds receptors to prevent activation of sweat glands. This can be very painful and treatment usually wears off in 3-4 months.
  • Combination Therapy – Over-the-counter products such as shoe inserts and foot powders combined with antiperspirants or iontophoresis to reduce foot sweating. Shoes for hyperhidrosis can be particularly beneficial for reducing excessive sweating that leads to wet and potentially smelly shoes. 
    • Shoe inserts help absorb sweat and prevent shoes from being ruined by sweat. SummerSoles® shoe inserts can even be worn with flip flops or open toe shoes.
    • Foot powders can help absorb sweat: Gold Bond® or Scholls’s® are designed especially for sweaty feet.
    • There are many shoes for hyperhidrosis or add-ons made for shoes for hyperhidrosis that can make a big difference in your everyday comfort level and the wearbility of your shoes when dealing with plantar hyperhidrosis.

If plantar hyperhidrosis is negatively impacting your quality of life, help is available. The Center for Hyperhidrosis at Columbia University Medical Center offers state of the art plantar hyperhidrosis treatment options proven successful for treating patients with mild to severe cases. Our Board Certified dermatologists are standing by to discuss hyperhidrosis treatments options to address your specific case and needs, and help you live a productive and comfortable life free of plantar hyperhidrosis.

Hands modeling and feet holding flower


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