6 Ways to Deal With Swampy, Sweaty Feet This Summer

If your socks get soggy and smelly during workouts or you find yourself sliding around in sandals—if you’ve got sweaty feet, is what I’m saying—you’re in good company. They tend to be one of the swampier parts of the human body: Each foot contains nearly 250,000 sweat glands, most of which are located on your soles.

Things like warm temps, stress, exercise, pregnancy, menopause, or even having a health condition like hyperthyroidism can all factor into how wet things get. While some people have a disorder called hyperhidrosis that causes them to sweat excessively, for the most part, a little extra perspiration is perfectly normal. After all, it’s just your body’s way of trying to keep you cool.

Natural or not, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who is thrilled about trekking around on a sweltering summer day in squishy shoes. And lots of sweat can sometimes lead to blisters (if that wetness causes friction), fungal infections, and funky odors. Here are some ways to keep your toes cool and dry this summer.

1. Wear breathable footwear.

You have to be strategic about what you put on your feet if you want to keep them (relatively) dry, Divya Shokeen, MD, FAAD, a Los Angeles–based dermatologist, tells SELF. She says that starts with shoes that allow for a lot of airflow (think: open-toed sandals, mesh sneakers, or slip-ons with plenty of holes or spaces).“Breathable shoes enhance the circulation of air and reduce the chances of heat and perspiration,” she notes. James McGuire, DPM, the director of the Leonard Abrams Center for Advanced Wound Healing at the Temple School of Podiatric Medicine, tells SELF that people should look for pairs made from certain materials—like tricot (a knit that can be either natural or synthetic), bamboo fibers, cork, or leather. The Allbirds Tree Loungers (made from eucalyptus tree fiber) and ECCO Flowt LX Wedge Sandal (made from leather) are two options that SELF previously recommended.

Still, shoes can be made with “good” materials and be crafted in a less-than-perforated way (say, the stitching is extra-tight), Dr. McGuire notes. Here’s a tip from him on how to tell if yours are *literally* breathable: Hold your shoe up to your mouth and blow through it—if you can feel your breath on the other side of the fabric, it’s well-ventilated and should help keep your feet feeling fresh.

Alternatively, avoid footwear made primarily with plastic, rubber, and synthetic leather, as they are more likely to trap moisture, Dr. McGuire notes.

2. Step up your sock game.

You also want to think about the type of socks you’re working with. As a general guide: Look for pairs made with merino wool or synthetic fabrics, such as polyester or nylon, explains Dr. McGuire. While it may seem counterintuitive to wear wool socks in hot weather, those materials are actually better at absorbing and evaporating moisture, he says, which will “keep your foot dryer and cooler.” (SELF previously recommended the Bombas Running Ankle Sock and Saucony Inferno Cushioned No Show Tab 3-Pack Socks as two great options.) Cotton, on the other hand, tends to suck up sweat but does a relatively crummy job of wicking it away, he adds. If you saturate your socks when you’re out and about, bring a couple of backup pairs to change into.

3. Try a foot powder.

Bacteria and fungi thrive in moist, warm environments, which makes clammy feet an ideal home. Foot powders help “absorb some of the moisture, and they keep the fungus growth down, which helps with odor,” says Dr. McGuire, so it might be worth it to sprinkle some into your socks—daily if need be. He recommends using a cornstarch-based or antifungal one with either miconazole nitrate or tolnaftate. Comfort Zone Miconazorb Antifungal Powder (which contains miconazole nitrate) and Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Foot Powder (derived from cornstarch) are two good options.

4. Embrace antiperspirants.

According to Dr. McGuire (and lots of people on Reddit!), antiperspirant can be a game-changer for this issue. “Most people don’t think about that,” he explains, “they put it under their arms all the time, but they don’t put it on their feet.” Dr. Shokeen recommends buying one that contains 10 to 15% aluminum chloride, which is a chemical that blocks sweat glands. As for the type, you’ve got lots of options: There are sprays, creams, wipes, gels, and roll-ons, including Certain Dri Prescription Strength Clinical Antiperspirant Roll-On Deodorant and Maxim Clinical Strength Antiperspirant (both of which have 15% aluminum chloride). Prescription ones with higher levels of aluminum chloride (around 20%) are an option if you feel like over-the-counter ones don’t work well.

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