How to Deal with Feet Sweat: 10 Methods to Find Relief

Feet in sandals standing on a rock

Cortney White/Stocksy

Sweating is your body’s natural way of keeping cool when temps heat up or exercise increases your internal temperature. It’s a protective mechanism that uses evaporation to cool you down. While sweating in your shoes is normal and expected in many circumstances, excessive foot sweating could be a sign of a medical condition called hyperhidrosis of the feet. Not only is this uncomfortable, but moist environments can lead to the growth of microorganisms that cause foot odor, blisters, and poor foot health (including fungal infections like tinea pedis). The good news is you have several options for addressing feet that sweat more than you think is normal, both from home and through a medical professional. Ahead, dermatologists walk us through 10 ways to deal with feet sweat at home and in-office.

Meet the Expert

  • Allison Leer, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the co-founder of Unity Skincare, which merges biotechnology with beauty to develop products with innovations like Retinol+, a less irritating yet incredibly effective form of the ingredient.
  • Brian Matthys, DO, FAOCD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist, the medical director at Epiphany Dermatology, and the founder of UV-focused skin health brand Eclipse RX.
  • Mariano Busso, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and a leader in cosmetic dermatology and injectables based in Miami.

Keep Your Feet Clean and Dry

It might seem obvious, but the best place to start tackling sweaty, stinky feet is to keep them as clean and dry as possible. “Wash your feet with antibacterial soap and water daily, and make sure to thoroughly dry them, especially between the toes,” recommends board-certified dermatologist Allison Leer, MD. Don’t skip the drying step—moisture can promote bacterial and fungal growth, leading to foot odor and infections, according to Leer.

Wear Moisture-Wicking Socks

Next in line is keeping your feet as moisture-free as possible. “Choose socks made from natural fibers like cotton or moisture-wicking synthetic materials to help keep your feet dry, and avoid socks made from nylon or other synthetic materials that can trap moisture,” Leer says. She also recommends changing your socks at least once daily, and more if needed—especially after workouts or exposure to hot environments.

Choose Breathable Shoes

Your feet comprise about 7% of your body surface area, yet foot sweat loss typically only accounts for 3-4% of whole-body sweat loss. The reason feet can get extra sweaty is that we keep them so cooped up, which interferes with heat dissipation and evaporation of sweat—leading to higher temperatures and humidity inside your shoes. Board-certified dermatologist Mariano Busso, MD, says to choose ventilated, breathable shoes made from natural materials like bamboo. “Rotating your shoes is also a good idea because it gives them time to dry out between wears and stops odor-causing germs from developing,” he adds.

Use Absorbant Shoe Inserts

Consider adding inserts or pads to boost your shoes' sweat-proofing power. “Specialized insoles or inserts composed of materials like charcoal or cedar can aid with odor control, moisture absorption, and support,” Busso explains. He also recommends placing moisture-absorbing pads inside your shoes and replacing them frequently.

Try a DIY Foot Soak

To deal with feet sweat, a DIY foot soak can be helpful for restoring balance. Busso has three different recommendations that can work wonders if you're looking to combat sweaty feet.

  • Apple cider vinegar: Busso explains that apple cider vinegar has astringent properties, helps balance pH, reduces sweat gland size, and provides mild antibacterial effects to control foot odor. “Use apple cider vinegar and water to soak your feet for 15-20 minutes,” he says.
  • Epsom salts: “Another treatment includes soaking your feet in warm water with half a cup of Epsom salts dissolved in it for the same amount of time,” Busso suggests. You've probably heard of the benefits of an Epsom salt soak for reducing stress, inflammation, and the symptoms of certain skin conditions, and this goes whether you're soaking your body or just your feet.
  • Black tea: Busso also says soaking in cool black tea several times per week can be helpful to deal with feet sweat: “Tannins included in black tea may help to reduce perspiration.”

Bonus: Try practicing mindfulness while you soak. “Stress management methods like deep breathing exercises, meditation, or physical activity may lessen total sweating,” Busso explains.

Use OTC Foot Antiperspirants

Over-the-counter foot antiperspirants are an accessible option that will work for most people who don’t require more advanced treatments. Board-certified dermatologist Brian Matthys, DO, says aluminum salts, which include aluminum chloride, are his first line of defense against hyperhidrosis of the feet. “A simple treatment, and one that's easily accessible to start with, is a spray antiperspirant,” he says. “These have aluminum salts in them, and the aluminum salts work by plugging the sweat glands, which is completely appropriate in order and safe for the use of prevention of sweating.”

Some over-the-counter products are labeled as clinical strength, which may work better for some people since they're more advanced, according to Matthys. “These products are neat because they include a different antiperspirant called aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex,” he explains. If sprays aren’t your thing, antiperspirant wipes work well for many people. “There's a product by a company called Dermadoctor called Med E Tate, which are aluminum chloride wipes that are really great—they're an elegant solution in a foil pack,” Matthys recommends.

Try a Prescription Antiperspirant

If you have a more severe case of hyperhidrosis that OTC antiperspirants aren't resolving, your dermatologist may be able to prescribe a potentially more effective option. Matthys recommends Drysol, a topical solution that is aluminum chloride 20%. Ask your doctor or dermatologist about prescription options that might work for you.

Consider Oral Medication

Oral medications such as anticholinergics are another option if you have clinically diagnosed hyperhidrosis. According to Busso, these medications stop sweat-stimulating impulses, so you end up sweating less overall. Types of anticholinergics include glycopyrrolate, oxybutynin, benztropine, and propantheline.

Try Botox on Your Feet

Botox is not just for smile lines—this popular injectable is also useful for blocking the release of acetylcholine, which tells sweat glands to start production. “You get shots in the areas causing the excessive sweating, and the Botox blocks the nerves that make you sweat,” Leer explains.

Botox (botulinum toxin) is approved for hyperhidrosis, according to Matthys, and it can be painful but could be worth it for more extended relief. “People sometimes prefer this treatment when they have really bad sweating, as it lasts between three and six months depending upon the dose,” he says.

Ask About Other In-Office Treatments

You can also deal with feet sweat by trying other helpful in-office procedures, such as iontophoresis, which sends an electric current through your skin. “You place your feet into shallow water trays while the current is sent through the water,” Leer explains. “The procedure is repeated several times over a few weeks until your sweating is reduced.”

A more radical option is endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS), which consists of surgically severing or clamping sweat-regulating nerves, Busso says. It’s a more invasive procedure, so it's typically only performed when nothing else has worked. This involves being put under anesthesia and having several small incisions that cut the sympathetic chain to stop nerve activity. Since this is typically not the first resort, you and your dermatologist will be able to decide together whether this surgical option is right for you.

The Final Takeaway

While sweating is an important bodily function to cool us down, hyperhidrosis of the feet can be both frustrating and risky, as the excess moisture can lead to odor, blisters, and possible fungal infections. If you're noticing a lot of feet sweat, start by keeping them clean and dry and trying at-home solutions like soaks, inserts, and OTC antiperspirants. If those don't work, get in touch with a dermatologist, who can help you explore prescription products as well as in-office procedures designed for more severe cases. Given the amount of treatment options, chances are something will reduce your feet sweat so you can find relief.

Article Sources
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  2. West AM, Tarrier J, Hodder S, Havenith G. Sweat distribution and perceived wetness across the human foot: the effect of shoes and exercise intensity. Ergonomics. 2019;62(11):1450-1461. doi:10.1080/00140139.2019.1657185

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  4. USCF Department of Surgery. Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy.

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