Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, can be embarrassing and cause emotional stress. This disorder predominantly affects the palms, soles and axillae.
Hyperhidrosis may actually be a symptom of other medical conditions including hyperthyroidism, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis, lymphoma, hypoglycemia, parasites, metabolic dysfunction, diabetes, liver disease, menopause and psychological disorders such as panic attacks. Some medications may also cause excessive sweating. In the cases where no causes are found, known as "primary hyperhidrosis", over activity of the nerves of the sympathetic nervous system, which send signals to the sweat gland of the skin, seems to be the culprit. This type of hyperhidrosis is a hereditary condition and even young children can suffer from this incessant sweating.
Patients usually complain of excessive moisture on the socks or within the shoes. The increased moisture on the skin results in an increased incidence of contact dermatitis, blistering and fungal, bacterial and viral infections. It causes your feet to shift more in shoes and sandals, making it more difficult to keep them on. With all this lingering moisture, inevitably, foot odor is also a problem. On a more psychological level, we see many patients who feel a deep sense of embarrassment over their affliction because it impacts their personal and social life on many different fronts.
What treatments options are available?
- Foot powders - Those with cornstarch are popular but this is very visible on your feet especially wearing sandals and can get messy.
- Anti-perspirant - Yes, good old fashioned under arm anti-perspirant has the active ingredient "aluminum chloride" that helps to reduce sweating in mild cases. There are stronger levels of aluminum chloride in prescriptive products and a visit to your podiatrist is recommended for these topical medications. Be warned that these chemicals on your feet can cause irritation.
There are many prescriptive medications being used off label that help block the sweating on a cellular level such as propantheline bromide (Probanthine®), glycopyrrolate (Robinul®), oxybutynin (Ditropan®), and benztropine (Cogentin®). These do carry with them a number of side effects ranging from dry mouth and eyes to constipation, difficulty urinating, dizziness and even nose bleeds! Needless to say, these medications are typically not used for very long!
There are some herbal remedies and even acupuncture that can ease some of your symptoms. Have not had any experience with patients claiming relief from these alternatives.
When nothing conventional seems to work, some people will resort to getting their feet injected multiple times with this stuff to block the chemical that is released by your body to make your feet sweat. Botox tends to work very well, only needing to be repeated several times per year, but be aware that it is not painless and sometimes require up to 50 injections per foot. Believe it or not, many people say it is well worth this temporary discomfort!!
This treatment involves electrical stimulation to the soles of your feet while your feet are submerged in water. A strong tingling sensation like the type you might feel after your foot falls asleep and starts to re-gain sensation. Iontophoresis, for best results, needs to be used one half hour every night per foot until sweating is controlled and will cause your feet to sweat less for about four to six weeks. The down side to this treatment is that it is time consuming and expensive.
When you really have run the gamut of many or all of the above a sympathetomy becomes the final treatment option. This literally involves destroying the cluster of nerve cells that are responsible for this sweating.
Here are some easy things you can start doing now:
- Alter your diet and avoid hot, spicy food! If it makes your head sweat, guess what?
- Chose natural materials such as leather for your dress shoes which allow your feet to breathe.
- When you are sitting on the couch, let those feet air out!
- Wear the newer athletic synthetic socks that absorb sweat and change them often. Nylon hose or socks are the absolute worst!
- Need to wear the nylon for your dress shoes and what about sandals?
Do we have the product for you! If you do nothing else, pick up a few pairs of Summer Soles inlays for all your shoes and sandals. Summer Soles is a podiatrist and dermatologist recommended, hypoallergenic amazing thin inlay that will literally wick and disperse the sweat off your feet! While it will not stop your feet from sweating, this product alone will make your feet feel dry in your shoes and sandals and keeps them from sliding around. It has a peel and stick backing that stays in place, but will not leave a residue in your foot wear when removed! You can now even get them scented with natural essential oils to keep odor under wraps! Check them out at www.summersoles.com.