Published on April 9, 2022
While there’s no particular relationship between diabetes and sweaty feet, having feet that sweat too much is a real concern for diabetics. People living with diabetes and diabetic neuropathy are at greater risk of developing foot problems that often lead to serious complications such as foot ulcers, gangrene, and even amputations.
When your feet are sweaty and wet, they’re prone to fungal infections, blisters, warts, skin rashes, and wounds that don’t heal properly. An important rule of diabetic good care is to always keep your feet dry. But how to keep your diabetic feet dry when you have excessively sweaty feet?
With more than 250,000 sweat glands, our feet are prime to sweat. But is feet sweating made worse by diabetes? Diabetes may be a cause of excessive body sweating (hyperhidrosis) but there’s no reason for it to affect our feet. In fact, people diagnosed with diabetic peripheral neuropathy may experience the opposite anhidrosis (reduced or absent sweating) in the feet or legs. Nevertheless, excessive feet sweating isn’t good for diabetics who are recommended to keep their feet dry to prevent diabetes-related foot problems and aggravations.
Diabetes is an autoimmune endocrine disease that can interfere with our body’s thermoregulation system. High or low blood sugar levels can cause hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating). In fact, more than 80% of people with diabetes sweat when they get hypoglycemia (low blood sugars). The sudden sweating usually goes away shortly after the blood sugar level goes back to normal. Even though less common, sweating issues may sometimes be linked to diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy damages the nerves in the body’s extremities. When the nerves that control the sweat glands are damaged, the sweat production can be disrupted and lead to too much or too little sweating. This may happen in the body, in the hands, or in the feet.
Anhidrosis is the inability to sweat sufficiently. Research has found a relation between anhidrosis in the feet and diabetic neuropathy. When the nerves that control the sweat glands in the feet are damaged by high blood sugar levels in the course of uncontrolled diabetes, there can be a disruption of the feet’ ability to sweat. It can lead to anhidrosis and dry feet in people with diabetes.
Abnormal or excessive sweating can be a sign of diabetes. To be more accurate, it can be a sign of hypoglycemia in people with diabetes. However, when the excessive sweating is chronic and localized in the feet only, there’s no evidence that it is a sign of diabetes.
That being said, foot health is crucial for diabetics and wet feet easily get wounded and infected. If you’re concerned about your sweaty feet, you should ask for your doctor’s advice or mention it during your annual diabetic foot exam.
While sweaty feet aren’t a sign of diabetes, having wet sweaty feet is a problem for diabetics. It can lead to damaged skin, fungus infections, and other foot problems that can have severe consequences, especially for those diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy. Diabetics are at higher risks of developing severe foot problems and must observe a flawless foot care routine that includes keeping their feet in a dry and healthy environment.
Wet and sweaty feet are prone to bacterial and fungus infections, as well as discomforts, warts, rashes, and itchiness. Wet skin also gets easily wounded and blistered. When not properly addressed, these problems can lead to further complications such as foot pain, open sores, or infections that do not heal properly. While these foot problems may not seem dangerous at first sight, they’re at the origin of most foot ulcers, gangrenes, and foot amputations in people with diabetes. That’s why diabetics must keep their fragile feet dry and wick the moisture away as much as possible.
Keeping your feet dry is one of the most important rules of good diabetic foot care. It helps prevent bacterial and fungus infections, blisters, warts, damaged skin, itchiness, and a whole lot of other foot conditions.
Don’t get confused though: keeping your feet dry does not mean drying out your skin. Your feet must stay dry, but the skin of your feet must be moisturized to prevent it from cracking and getting infected.
Fortunately, with these few tips and a good foot hygiene, you should be able to keep your sweaty feet dry and avoid more serious diabetic foot problems.
The first step to keeping sweaty feet dry and healthy is to wear the right socks. Stay away from cotton and synthetic fabrics. Even though they’re very common, these kinds of yarn don’t perform well with moisture management. You’ll also want your socks to have anti-bacterial, anti-fungus, and anti-odor properties to help prevent fungus infections. Last, choose breathable socks that have ventilation channels, meshes, or holes so they let the air in and out. Of course, prefer diabetic socks to regular socks. They do offer extra protection and comfort to your fragile feet.
In the summer, prefer socks made from bamboo fibres, nano fibres, Coolmax, or thin wool fibres. These sock fabrics naturally wick moisture away from your feet. In the winter, you’ll want to keep your feet warm, and even more so if you have diabetes. Prefer thermal diabetic socks made with warm but moisture-wicking yarns such as Merino wool or Alpaca wool, or thick bamboo fibers.
Here’s a list of the best summer socks for diabetes sweaty feet!
If your feet sweat a lot, even the moist moisture-wicking socks might not stay dry for a whole day. Always have a pair of clean dry socks in your bag and change socks whenever the ones you’re wearing are wet.
Shoes matter too for diabetes sweaty feet. First, diabetics with foot problems are recommended to wear diabetic shoes that bring extra protection and comfort to their delicate feet. If you have diabetes and sweaty feet, you should definitely consider orthopedic shoes made with breathable fabrics and moisture-wicking interior linings. Avoid synthetic fabrics that do not allow good airflow and trap the sweat inside the shoe.
If your shoes are wet from sweat in the evening, make sure they dry at night for the next day. Consider using a shoe dryer.
You can also find relief with absorbent and deodorizing insoles for diabetes and neuropathy.
Sweaty feet are not caused by bad foot hygiene, but they do require a lot of attention. If you want to stay away from foot odors, bacteria, and fungus infections, you should wash sweaty feet at least once, if not twice, a day. Not only does it rinse the sweat away, but it helps cool down the skin and reduce sweating afterward. You might want to try using antifungal soap. Be sure to dry your feet properly, especially in between your toes.
Related: The Best Foot Soaks for Neuropathy
Some foot care products have been specially formulated for sweaty feet. Antiperspirant creams or powders with antifungal properties may work for you. However, if you have diabetes and even more so if you have peripheral neuropathy, ask for your doctor’s advice before applying anything on your feet. Some products might be too aggressive and do more harm than good.
As a diabetic, you must be very concerned about your feet’ health. Tiny problems such as blisters or infections can turn into a real nightmare that can go as far as a toe or foot amputation when not taken care of. People living with diabetes and neuropathy are entitled to an annual diabetic foot exam. During that exam, ask for your doctor’s or your podiatrist’s advice about your sweaty feet problem. Some cases may require medical attention, medications, or iontophoresis therapy.