Excessive sweating, medically termed Hyperhidrosis, is often occupationally disabling and socially embarrassing. Hyperhidrosis and occlusion by footwear result in the feet remaining moist leading to the feet becoming soft and soggy or macerated. This maceration reduces the body’s resistance to fungal and bacterial skin infections. Microorganisms multiply and begin to break down sweat and the macerated skin result in smelly feet, known medically as Bromhidrosis.
Hyprhidrosis may be generalised, involving other regions of the body, or focal being just localised to the feet.
Heat, humidity, and vigorous exercise are by far the most common causes of generalized hyperhidrosis, as the body struggles to maintain its optimal body temperature. However, generalized hyperhidrosis may also be a sign of systemic disease, therefore, your podiatrist may look for an underlying cause or refer you to a physician for appropriate investigations.
Most patients who present with generalized hyperhidrosis are adults whose sweating occurs during both the waking and the sleeping hours.
Focal or primary hyperhidrosis usually begins in adolescence or childhood and is localized to the feet. The condition may be inherited and typically does not occur during sleep. Focal hyperhidrosis is triggered by emotional stimuli and may be made worse by heat. However, although emotional stimuli are necessary for focal hyperhidrosis to occur in affected people, it is a physiological rather than a psychological disorder.
Studies have identified that in patients with focal hyperhidrosis the hypothalamic centres in the brain involved in the regulation of sweating appear to be more sensitive to emotional stimuli than in unaffected people.
Podiatry treatment for generalised hyperhidrosis most often involves the use of prescription medications and addressing any underlying related medical conditions.
Focal hyperhisrosis may be treated with a number of over the counter preparations such as Formalin soaks and potassium permanganate and topical prescriptions medications such as Drysol.
In addition, your podiatrist will be able to advise you on appropriate footwear, hosiery and topical medications.