woman with sweaty feet

6 Causes Of Sweaty Feet

Our guide to understand clammy feet and everything you need to know about how to stop sweaty feet.

Sweaty Feet

We all experience sweaty feet at some point, particularly in warm weather or when we’re exercising. While very common, sweaty feet can be uncomfortable, and damp feet can also lead to other health issues, such as foot odour, athlete’s foot, and toenail fungus. While it is usually totally normal, excessive sweating can indicate a condition called plantar hyperhidrosis.

You can’t (and you don’t want to) stop your feet from sweating, but if sweaty feet are causing you problems, we explore how to prevent and manage sweaty feet, advice on how to stop sweaty feet and how to treat cold clammy feet. 

Sweaty Feet

Why do our feet sweat?

1) To regulate body temperature: Our bodies sweat in order to regulate our temperatures - sweating cools the body by wetting the surface of the skin. Most people sweat when it's hot, or when they become too warm.

2) Protection: Sweating also helps to protect the skin as it is slightly acidic, and this helps protect skin from bacteria, as well as keeping the skin supple.

3) Feet contain a large number of sweat glands: The number of working sweat glands varies between parts of the body - and also between different people - but there are around two to four million sweat glands distributed all over our bodies. There 250,000 sweat glands in the feet alone - more than anywhere else on the body. When all the sweat glands are working at maximum capacity, we can produce up to three litres of sweat an hour.

4) Feet do a lot of heavy lifting: Our feet are under an enormous amount of pressure. Whether we’re running or walking, they take the strain of our entire bodies, and are all too often encased in shoes and socks that don’t allow the feet to breathe. No wonder we sometimes get clammy feet. 

There is also a theory that sweaty feet would once have given us a genetic advantage. Some experts believe that sweat increases friction on bare feet, which would have helped our ancestors get more grip on the ground when running from predators - sweat being produced when our flight or fight mode kicks in. 


woman trying to prevent sweaty feet

lady with sweaty feet

Sweaty Feet

Common causes of sweaty feet:

  • Heat - either warm weather or a fever will increase the amount of sweat the body produces as it works to reduce body temperature.
  • Exercise - when you work out, sweating helps cool your body down and prevents your core temperature from rising to dangerous levels.
  • Emotion - anxiety or emotional stress can cause you to sweat more. 
  • Footwear - your choice of shoes and socks can increase the amount of sweat you produce. 
  • Standing for long periods - you're more likely to have sweaty feet if you’re on your feet all day. 
  • Hyperhidrosis - a condition that makes you sweat more 

Sweaty Feet

How to stop sweaty feet

While you can’t stop your feet from sweating, there are some ways to treat and help stop sweaty feet. 
woman using anti-perspirant for sweaty feet

How to stop sweaty feet

Use antiperspirant

Antiperspirant works by temporarily blocking the sweat glands and stopping the flow of sweat.

While we are more accustomed to using them for controlling sweat and fragrancing our underarms, antiperspirants are every bit as effective on sweaty feet. 

Spray antiperspirants like the NIVEA Dry Confidence anti-perspirant deodorant are quick and easy, and a coating of this will give you 48 hours of reliable protection against sweat. 

socks to avoid sweaty feet

How to stop sweaty feet

Wear the right socks

  • Wear fresh socks every day. You may even want to change them more than once a day, particularly if you have exercised or walked a long way.
  • Wear socks made of natural fibre, or socks that are designed to absorb moisture. Socks made of wool, cotton or a mixture of these are the best socks if you have sweaty feet.
  • Avoid nylon socks.
  • Many sports socks have moisture-wicking properties designed to absorb sweat.

women wearing shoes to avoid sweaty feet

How to stop sweaty feet

Wear the right shoes

  • Like socks, natural fabrics are best here or synthetic blends that are designed to wick moisture away from the skin. 
  • Leather and canvas are more breathable than synthetic fabrics which will keep your feet cooler - and less prone to sweating. 
  • Wear shoes that fit - if they are too small, your feet will sweat more and there will be less airflow - if your shoes are tight, sweat can't evaporate.
  • In warm weather, wear shoes which allow air to circulate, including sandals and open-toed shoes.
  • If you can, alternate your shoes everyday to allow them to dry thoroughly. 

woman writing notes about sweaty feet

How to stop sweaty feet

Keep sweating notes

Writing about your sweaty feet might not be the most riveting of reads, but keeping notes on when and how much you experience a particularly heavy sweat can be really helpful in establishing a link as to why you’re experiencing sweaty feet.

Sweaty Feet

How do I prevent cold sweaty feet?

Heavy sweating can make feet feel cold, especially when evaporation cools the feet quickly. Clammy feet, or clammy skin for that matter, usually means that skin is wet from sweating. While sweating cools the body down it can make the skin feel wet. Sometimes, a person can be sweaty or have clammy feet when they are not hot.

Managing cold and clammy feet is similar to managing hot and sweaty feet. Reducing the amount you sweat will reduce that clammy feeling that occurs when sweat dries.
woman washing sweaty feet

How to keep sweaty feet fresh?

Here are some tips on keeping your feet feeling fresh.

  • Experts recommend a 20-minute soak in warm water with three to four tablespoons of baking soda. Once you’re done, dry your feet thoroughly, especially in between the toes as bacteria and fungus can flourish in damp conditions.
  • A black tea soak - Some experts recommend black tea soaks as a way to manage sweating. Tea contains tannins that can help shrink pores and so reduce the flow of sweat.