Hyperhidrosis. This is a condition characterized by increased perspiration beyond what is necessary for normal temperature regulation in the body. Although the exact cause of hyperhidrosis is still under investigation, the mechanism is fairly clear. The sympathetic nervous system sends signals to the sweat glands, telling them to produce and release sweat. Sweating is important in controlling the temperature of the body, but in hyperhidrosis, the sweat glands are producing and releasing more than needed for temperature regulation.
Approximately 1% to 3% of population has hyperhidrosis and many body parts can be affected. The body parts most commonly affected are the palms (palmar HH), the soles (plantar HH) and the armpits (axillary HH). Although it is common for those with excess foot sweating to also have excess hand sweating, the discussion here will focus on plantar hyperhidrosis. Certain types of footwear can increase sweating in the feet, but those with hyperhidrosis can experience increases in perspiration due to anxiety or drinks with caffeine or the nicotine in cigarettes and even with spicy food. These food items don’t cause hyperhidrosis, they just exacerbate it. Excessive sweating in feet
can contribute to the development of athlete’s foot,warts, blisters, infections and foot odor.
The pictures below show the appearance of the skin when there is too much moisture. The white and wrinkled appearance of the forefoot is a common result of both excess pressure and excess moisture. A similar appearance can occur in a condition called pitted keratolysis.
Pitted keratolysis is a bacterial infection which commonly occurs in those who have hyperhidrosis.
It is characterized by small pits in the skin under the ball of the foot or the heel.
When there is excessive moisture around the feet, the skin on the bottom of the feet will appear
wet, white, wrinkled and pitted (as seen above). Individuals who wear enclosed shoes and cotton
socks or work in wet environments may experience excessive foot sweating or moisture without
having hyperhidrosis. Openings in the skin could form and the feet can become tender or painful.
The excessive moisture in the feet increases the chances for the development of athlete’s foot.
For those with hyperhidrosis, sandals can be difficult to wear without socks because the foot
slides within the sandal, making walking and driving dangerous.
This is the combination of sweaty feet and foot odor. A moist, warm environment is
a perfect place for bacterial growth, which is what causes foot odor. Those with hyperhidrosis
have a greater chance of having foot odor because the increased moisture increases the chances
for bacterial growth.