Is There Medication for Sweaty Feet?

For those who suffer from excessive sweating of the feet, known medically as plantar hyperhidrosis, the condition can have a significant impact on daily comfort and quality of life. The excess moisture between the toes and on the soles caused by overactive sweat glands can lead to issues like athlete’s foot, odor, and damaged skin. Fortunately, thanks to modern medicine, there are several effective treatment options available to control sweaty feet.

Topical Antiperspirants

The first line of defense against sweaty feet is over-the-counter topical antiperspirants. Popular brands like Certain Dri and Carpe contain aluminum chloride, which helps plug sweat ducts and temporarily disable sweat glands when applied to the skin. For feet, special prescription-strength formulas contain a higher concentration of aluminum chloride, making them more potent than regular deodorant sticks. Simply clean and dry the feet thoroughly before bed, then apply a thin layer of antiperspirant cream or wipe to the soles and in between the toes. It may take several consecutive nights of use before the antiperspirant’s full effects are noticed. Once sweating is under control, maintain results by using the product only once every few days. These affordable antiperspirants are safe and effective for mild to moderate foot sweating.

Oral Anticholinergic Medications

If over-the-counter antiperspirants are not strong enough, the next step is oral prescription drugs that reduce sweating throughout the body. Anticholinergics like glycopyrrolate and oxybutynin block acetylcholine, the chemical responsible for activating sweat glands. By inhibiting acetylcholine, these pills hinder signals from the sympathetic nervous system that trigger sweating. However, as with any systemic medication, possible side effects include dry mouth, drowsiness, blurred vision, constipation, and difficulty urinating. The newer topical anticholinergic wipe Qbrexza allows precise application to the feet to limit whole-body side effects.

Botox Injections

For some, Botox injections can provide targeted relief for sweaty feet. Multiple tiny injections of onabotulinumtoxinA are administered across the soles and toes. Botox blocks the release of acetylcholine, preventing nerve signals from reaching the sweat glands. Reduced sweating in the feet can last for 6 months or longer before maintenance injections are required. Potential side effects include temporary numbness, swelling, soreness, or bruising at the injection sites. Overall, Botox provides localized yet long-lasting results for foot sweating without systemic side effects.

Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy

Patients with severe, untreatable foot sweating may be candidates for ETS surgery. This minimally invasive procedure uses an endoscope to sever a section of the sympathetic nerve chain that triggers sweating. ETS is over 95% effective at stopping excessive foot sweating. However, it also greatly reduces sweating over the entire body, which can be dangerous in hot climates. Many patients experience compensatory sweating on their back, chest, face, or thighs as the remaining sweat glands work harder. Surgery risks include bleeding, infection, lung collapse, and chronic pain or numbness. Still, ETS may provide lasting relief when other treatments fail.

Lifestyle Adjustments

In addition to medical therapies, those with sweaty feet should adopt preventative foot hygiene habits. Wear moisture-wicking socks to pull sweat away from the skin. Alternate pairs of shoes daily so each has time to fully dry out. Apply absorbent foot powder inside socks and shoes to soak up excess moisture. Disinfect and thoroughly dry between the toes after bathing or exercise. Avoid wearing occlusive rubber boots whenever possible. Watch for signs of fungal infections like athlete’s foot and treat them early. With discipline, these tactics can help manage sweaty feet day-to-day.

Living with excessively sweaty feet can be frustrating. The smell, dampness, and skin irritation can make sufferers self-conscious. However, with prescription-strength antiperspirants, oral medications, Botox, and ETS surgery, modern medicine offers several ways to control sweat production in the feet. Dermatologists can help find the right solution to manage symptoms and improve comfort. You don’t have to simply put up with sweaty feet – take steps to actively treat them instead.