Is It OK to Use Antiperspirant on Feet?

Many people suffer from sweaty or smelly feet. The moisture and bacteria on our feet can cause odor, athlete’s foot, and other problems. Using an antiperspirant on your feet may seem like an easy solution, but is it safe and effective? Here are some things to consider before using antiperspirant on your feet.

How Antiperspirants Work

Antiperspirants contain active ingredients like aluminum salts and zirconium that form a plug in the sweat ducts. This prevents sweat from reaching the surface of the skin and causing wetness and odor. Antiperspirants used under the arms are very effective at reducing underarm sweat and odor. However, the skin on our feet has some important differences.

Thicker Skin on Feet

The skin on our soles and toes is much thicker than underarm skin. This thicker skin has more layers that antiperspirant would have to penetrate to reach the sweat glands. As a result, antiperspirants may not be able to form an effective plug in the sweat ducts when applied to feet. The skin may also absorb the active ingredients differently.

More Sweat Glands

Our feet have more sweat glands per square inch than any other part of the body. The sheer number of sweat glands pumping out moisture makes it difficult for antiperspirants to control foot sweat. While antiperspirant may reduce sweat to some degree, it is unlikely to eliminate foot sweat the way it does underarm sweat.

Friction and Absorption

The friction inside socks and shoes can rub off antiperspirant from the skin before it has time to work. Sweat and moisture inside shoes can also dilute the antiperspirant. This reduces its effectiveness over time. Reapplying antiperspirant several times a day may help, but can be inconvenient.

Potential Skin Irritation

Some people may experience skin irritation, itching, or redness when using antiperspirant on the feet. The skin on our feet is already prone to sweating, fungus, and bacteria. Rubbing in antiperspirant can exacerbate these problems in some people. Discontinuing use usually resolves any irritation.

Safer Alternatives

Using antiperspirant on smelly or sweaty feet is usually not necessary. There are safer and more effective alternatives. Wearing moisture wicking socks, frequently changing socks, using shoe powders and disinfecting sprays can help reduce foot odor. Sandal usage, going barefoot when possible, and athlete’s foot treatments can also improve common foot problems.

Talk to Your Doctor

Before trying antiperspirant on your feet, talk to your doctor. A dermatologist can help discover the underlying cause of excessive foot sweating and odor. This may be hyperhidrosis, fungus, infections, or other conditions. Your doctor can provide clinical-strength antiperspirants or prescribe other treatments if warranted. But for most people, antiperspirant is not necessary for foot care.

While antiperspirant is generally safe for underarms, using it on the feet regularly is not usually recommended. Thicker skin, more sweat glands, absorption issues, and irritation risks make antiperspirants less effective and potentially problematic. Unless your doctor advises it, consider safer alternatives to keep your feet comfortable and odor-free.