Plantar hyperhidrosis is a condition characterized by excessive sweating of the feet without apparent cause. While it might not sound like such a big problem to most people, the 5% of the worldwide population that experiences this profuse sweating would say otherwise.
Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to help address disproportionate plantar perspiration. The most practical and accessible? Investing in the best socks for sweaty feet, of course. Find out how to choose the right pair of socks and which choices dominate our list of the best with this complete guide.
What Causes Sweaty Feet?
First things first – what exactly is the reason behind the excessive sweating of feet? There are several possible answers.
At this phase in our development, we transition from children to adults, and thus experience certain bodily changes that often seem unpleasant and erratic. Some of these include acne, body odor, and excessive sweat production. This profuse perspiration usually occurs all over the body, with the feet commonly affected especially if the individual often wears closed shoes and thick socks.
Perspiring as a result of physical activity can cause significant foot sweating, especially if you’re used to wearing shoes and socks with limited breathability. This is one of the most common, non-pathological causes of sweaty feet. The obvious solution would be to rethink your footwear choices.
Feeling nervous or anxious? It’s normal to experience excessive sweating when your system is worked up. Sweaty palms and feet are a known symptom of stress. Regulating the pressure you feel and calming yourself down are simple yet effective ways to resolve sweating as a result of stress.
If none of the factors mentioned above explains your sweaty feet, then the problem might be engrained into your system. The most common reason for excessive foot sweating is genetics – that is, you probably got it from one of your parents. The problem of having sweaty feet is usually something you can blame on mom and dad, especially if you find that external factors aren’t the cause for the issue.
What Problems Can Sweaty Feet Cause?
Sweaty feet can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, but the feelings they cause are secondary to the actual problems that could develop as a result of having feet that are too moist too often.
The perspiration released by your glands works to cool down your body and keep your skin moist to prevent cracking and wounds. But because the sweat we produce is mainly made up of proteins, skin that’s drenched in sweat becomes a breeding ground for protein-hungry bacteria. This bacteria colonizes around the moist areas and thrives to create a foul odor whenever sweat is present. Washing away the area affected can easily resolve the matter for now, but once sweat returns, bacteria won’t be too far behind.
Fungi like to grow in warm, damp places. So you can expect that if your feet are always in stuffy shoes that encourage a lot of sweating, a fungal infection affecting the nails won’t be too unlikely. Nail fungus might not be a problem at the start, but as time goes on, the infection can cause cosmetic issues. In some cases, fungal nail infections can go on to cause pain and discomfort.
When your skin is moist for too long, it becomes soft and easily wounded. So any friction that occurs between your skin and your socks or shoes can quickly turn into a blister. These painful spots can persist for weeks, and make it very difficult to walk and move especially if they constantly make contact with shoes and socks. If untreated, a blister that’s exposed to sweat can also easily become infected because of the high concentration of bacteria that perspiration attracts.
Choosing the Right Sock Material
Throughout the years, companies that specialize in the manufacturing of footwear and foot accessories have come up with a variety of materials that help manage sweaty feet. These days, it’s easy to find specialized products that are especially designed to combat the problem of excessive sweating of the feet. The only real question is – what material is best for you?
Moisture Wicking Polyester Blend
Made from synthetic materials, men and women’s moisture wicking socks for work, casual, and athletic use don’t retain moisture as well as natural fabrics do. These materials usually use a blend of polyester which works to take moisture away from the body, and then push it to the exterior of the fabric. This makes it easier for sweat to evaporate, instead of staying absorbed in the material.
Merino is a breed of sheep that’s widely known for its wool. Unlike other wool, merino wool is finer, much more elastic, and better at pushing moisture out so that it evaporates instead of soaking the material. Merino wool is also coated in lanolin which is a natural substance secreted by sheep in order to prevent their wool from damage by rain and moisture. This gives merino wool its antibacterial properties, so it doesn’t develop foul odors even after repeated use.
Most anti odor socks are made from bamboo which possesses both antimicrobial and odor management properties that help mitigate the effects of sweaty feet. Keep in mind though that bamboo fabrics don’t wick away sweat. So it would be best to seek out socks that use a combination of bamboo and moisture wicking fabric in order to get the best of both worlds.
Charcoal helps manage odors and keeps bacteria at bay. Often, you’ll find socks for sweaty feet made from a combination of bamboo and charcoal. These two materials work well to minimize the issues that could occur as a consequence of too much sweating.
What Materials Should You Avoid?
There are some sock materials that will cause much more sweating, bacteria build-up, and foul odors. So be sure to avoid these at all costs if you’re trying to maintain cool, clean, dry feet.
Considered one of the worst fabrics for sweaty feet, cotton absorbs moisture and locks it in. This attracts a lot of bacteria which in turn leads to the development of foul odors. What’s more, because cotton socks tend to soak up perspiration, they keep the feet moist and prone to issues like fungus and blisters.
Rayon is a lightweight fabric that’s similar to cotton. It’s thinner and more stretchable though, which is why it’s usually advertised as a suitable fabric for active wear. While it might be alright for garments like tops and bottoms, rayon socks can be problematic because they’re trapped inside shoes. These fabrics can absorb quite a lot of sweat, and when they’re not exposed to air, they tend to leave sweat clinging to your skin.
Socks made from natural polyester fabric blends are normally water resistant. This means they won’t absorb any sweat at all, but also won’t allow the moisture to penetrate through to the other side. What happens then is that sweat pools inside of the sock, locking in your perspiration and keeping it there until you decide to remove them all together.
3 of the Best Socks for Sweaty Feet
If you’re struggling to keep your feet cool and dry through a hard day’s work, then the Merino Wool Socks from Fun Toes should be your best bet. Considered the best moisture wicking socks for work, these socks use a combination of merino wool, nylon, and spandex to give you a comfortable, breathable sock that also helps manage sweat.
Another reason why these socks topped our list is the fact that they’re durable. Because of this, they’re often considered the best socks for sweaty feet in work boots as well. Daily wear stretches out typical socks which cause them to lose density. The Merino Wool Socks from Fun Toes can easily outlast the onslaught of everyday use, making them a sound investment if you don’t want to have to keep repurchasing.
These polyester-free bamboo socks are the best dress socks for sweaty feet on the market. The material is particularly soft and light, allowing substantial air flow to keep feet cool and dry for extended periods of use. Boasting a thread count of 200, these socks are also exceptionally durable, giving them the elasticity they need to whip back to their original fit after every wash.
Other aspects that make the Dress Crew Bamboo Socks from Hugh Ugoli a winner include its rich, neutral colors and subtle patterns, non-binding garters, and premium packaging, making them a great gift idea.
The last socks on our list comes from MD. What makes the Soft Antibacterial Bamboo Fiber Crew Casual Socks a suitable choice is the fact that its fibers are woven together in a way that permits greater breathability. The lightweight and cool design effectively reduces sweat production, while the material guarantees that neither bacteria nor foul odors will thrive in your socks.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that these socks from MD also feature a cushioned sole. While that has nothing to do with sweat prevention and management, it does make the sock particularly comfortable especially if you’ve got a pair of dress shoes that don’t really give you the bounce or responsiveness you need.
Sweaty feet can be a major setback, but if you’ve got the right socks, it won’t be too much of a problem. The many different developments in the design of socks has made it possible for brands to come up with choices that won’t only give you comfort, but will also help manage issues like sweaty, smelly feet. So the next time you find yourself in search of the best socks for sweaty feet, remember to keep this comprehensive guide in mind – or check out the Fun Toes Merino Wool Socks which are guaranteed to give the best bang for your buck.