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Excessive Foot Sweating

By Rebecca Campen, M.D., J.D.
Content provided by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School

Question:

I have excessive feet sweating. Within minutes of putting my shoes on, my socks are soaked. What could this be? Is there any type of medication I could take to control this?

Answer:

Doctors call excessive feet sweating "hyperhidrosis". It is a common problem, especially in hot, humid climates or in people active in sports and exercise.

Sweating is the body's way of removing excessive heat. This is important to good health. In some cases, however, sweating can be in excess of what would normally be expected. This can be distressing and interfere with daily activities.

Excessive sweating of the hands, feet or armpits may be associated with stress, medications, certain medical conditions, or hereditary factors.

Over-the-counter antiperspirants may not be effective. Your doctor may prescribe an antiperspirant (Drysol) to apply several nights per week (and washed off the following morning).

If excessive perspiration continues, Botox treatments may be helpful. Botox treatments of the feet involve multiple injections of botulinum toxin to the bottom of the feet. This temporarily turns off the sweat glands.

Before you consider Botox treatment, talk to your doctor about the risks and side effects. Reducing the sweat on the feet may lead to excessive sweating in another area of the body. Also, Botox treatment is expensive and painful, and the effects last only about six months.

If all else fails, your doctor may prescribe oral (by mouth) anticholinergic medications. These medications help reduce sweating, but they also have widespread effects that include dry eyes and dry mouth.

It is important to see your doctor if excessive sweating continues to be a problem. Your doctor can look for possible underlying medical conditions and talk to you about treatment options, risks, and benefits.

Last Annual Review Date: 2010-06-17T00:00:00-06:00 Copyright: Copyright Harvard Health Publications

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