It’s not unusual for parents to notice their child’s feet sweating, even at a young age. Excessive sweating of the feet is a condition called plantar hyperhidrosis, and it can occur in children as well as adults. While it may seem worrisome, some level of sweating on a child’s feet is normal. However, if it becomes excessive, there are treatments available.
What Causes Sweating on Children’s Feet?
Sweating occurs when the sweat glands in the feet produce perspiration as a way for the body to regulate its temperature. When the body becomes overheated, the sweat glands release moisture onto the surface of the skin, allowing the sweat to evaporate and cool the body down.
Everyone has sweat glands in their feet, but some people’s glands are more active than others. The exact cause of plantar hyperhidrosis is unknown, but contributing factors can include:
- Genetics – Excessive sweating often runs in families. If one or both parents have overactive sweat glands, a child is more likely to as well.
- Hormonal changes – Sweating increases during puberty, as hormone levels rise.
- Nervous system overactivity – The autonomic nervous system controls sweating. Overactivity can trigger excessive sweat production.
- Obesity – Increased body mass leads to more heat retention, increasing sweat production.
- Hot climate – Exposure to heat naturally increases sweating.
When Is Foot Sweating Considered Excessive?
It’s normal for children’s feet to sweat some when they get hot or anxious, or while playing and running around. Light perspiration helps regulate body temperature. The following signs may indicate a child has hyperhidrosis of the feet:
- Sweat soaks through socks or shows through shoes.
- Feet remain wet even after cooling down.
- Foot odor is noticeably strong.
- Child complains of damp, uncomfortable feet.
- Sweating worsens with heat or emotional stress.
- Footprints are visible when walking barefoot.
Typically, these symptoms will be present most days, indicating the excessive sweating is a chronic problem. One-time or occasional sweaty feet after vigorous play or in hot weather is not necessarily a concern.
Potential Complications of Excessive Foot Sweating
While not dangerous, consistent foot sweating can cause other issues for kids, including:
- Chafing, blisters and peeling skin from dampness.
- Bad foot odor from sweating.
- Self-consciousness about foot odor or wet shoes and socks.
- Cold feet as excessive moisture evaporates.
Kids may also be more prone to fungal infections like athlete’s foot since moisture allows fungi and bacteria to thrive.
When to See a Doctor
Consult a pediatrician if a child has chronic, excessive foot perspiration that is disrupting their daily activities or emotional wellbeing. A podiatrist may also be consulted. The doctor can determine if there is an underlying condition causing the hyperhidrosis, and discuss treatment options. This may include:
- Stronger antiperspirants applied to the feet.
- Iontophoresis – Using electrical currents to reduce sweating.
- Botox injections – Botox can temporarily block sweating.
- Prescription medications – Oral medicines may reduce perspiration.
- Surgery – Severing the nerves that trigger sweat glands.
Home Care Tips for Sweaty Feet
Until seeing a doctor, try these tips to alleviate a child’s sweaty feet:
- Wash and dry feet thoroughly, including between the toes.
- Apply over-the-counter antiperspirant/deodorant on soles before bed.
- Use moisture-wicking socks to soak up sweat. Change socks twice a day if needed.
- Use foot powder inside shoes and socks.
- Wear breathable shoes like canvas or mesh. Avoid rubber and vinyl shoes.
- Alternate pairs of shoes so each can fully dry between wearings.
- Soak feet in black tea once a week to control odor.
Make sure shoes fit properly so toes don’t rub. Well-fitting shoes minimize friction that causes blisters and peeling skin. Getting overheated feet can worsen sweating, so try to keep kids’ feet cool with fans, A/C and water play.
When to Worry
While it’s normal for kids to sweat, excessive, constant foot perspiration may signify an underlying issue. Consult a doctor if sweating doesn’t respond to home remedies and continues interfering with a child’s daily comfort and activities. Though frustrating, various treatments are available to control excessive foot sweating so kids can simply be kids. With the right management, sweaty feet don’t have to dampen their spirits.