ZocdocAnswersHow do i get rid of smelly feet?

Question

How do i get rid of smelly feet?

My wife and daughters have been cursed with excessive sweat on their feet and hence extreem foot odor. They wash their feet often with normal soap and warm water and even between showers etc. I used to think it was that they needed breathable shoes and socks etc, though this is not easy to accomplish when wearing dinner attire, but nothing helps. They also have sweaty hands a lot. My son and I don't have any of these symptoms.

Answer

Your wife and daughters probably share a genetic condition that overstimulates the sympathetic nervous system. This is part of the autonomic nervous system, the part that we generally do not have control over. Parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is the counter-part of sympathetic nervous system. These two systems counter-act each other and regulate our body temperature, heart rate, intestinal activities, and fight or flight reactions. However, only the sympathetic nervous system controls the sweat glands. The PNS is not involved in controlling our sweat glands. This genetic defect leads to high activity of the sweat glands that contribute to excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis). Often it affects the feet but the hands can also be affected. As you pointed out, this can be very distressful for the patients and their families. The excessive sweating can predispose to fungal infection and malodorous feet. It sounds like they have tried wearing cotton foot wears and open shoes without much help. It is possible that your family may benefit from transecting the sympathetic nerves that supply the feet and hands. These nerves locate along the spine in the thoracic as well as along the lumbar region. Surgeons can do these procedures minimally invasively (with a laparoscope). You would need to discuss this possibility with your doctor and get a referral to a surgeon who performs this procedure. Almost everyone who had undergone this procedure was shown to have significant improvement in decrease sweating. Again, please speak with your doctor. Good luck!

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