Are there antiperspirants for feet? This is what I asked myself a while ago. You may have pondered this question too. When searching for products it almost seems like they all are dedicated to use on armpits, neck and face.
But yes, they do exist although most over the counter products are not dedicated to use on feet. Still, varying in strength and action there are quite a few rather effective products available.
In fact there are various ways to control excessive foot sweating and odor. A quality antiperspirant is one of them and is an essential part of a multimodal approach.
They are generally the first resort of treating plantar hyperhidrosis, a condition in which you have overactive sweat glands located on your feet.
Years ago I was, as they say, gellin. Squishing and slipping in my shoes, white macerated skin from the sweat and bacteria eating my skin alive. Sometimes it hurt and it always smelled really bad.
My first encounter with an effective cure was a prescription solution from my physician; aluminum chloride. There’s a wide range of non-prescription antiperspirants that contain this stuff too.
I have compiled a list of products designed to reducing the amount of perspiration and controlling the unpleasant odor. There are 3 in particular that I recommend.
If you want to find a solution for your sweaty feet, deodorants or, even better, antiperspirants can help
I will delve in their active ingredients, how they work, which product is best, and also essential to success, how to use.
Types of antiperspirants /deodorants
There’s a difference between deodorants and antipersiprants.
- Deodorants reduce odor, usually through an antibacterial action.
- Antiperspirants reduce sweating, often by closing sweat glands.
Some of the foot deodorants also double as an antiperspirant but you will want to make sure you read the label carefully to make sure.
If your foot sweating is serious you will want a product that has at least antiperspirant action. This will reduce the wetness and slipperiness of your feet and subsequently foot odor.
These products generally come in sticks or sprays. Sprays allow for easier application between toes.
If you want to prevent your feet from sweating and causing offensive odors, then you will want to skip the deodorants and look at antiperspirants for your feet.
Quality antiperspirants for the feet contain metallic salts. Ancient peoples such as the Romans and Greeks already used aluminum salts as wound dressings because of their astringent properties.
- Astringent action: causing the contraction of skin cells and other body tissues.
Nowadays these substances are still used to contract tissue. Either to seal harmed blood vessels or to inhibit sweat glands. The following are two commonly used types of metallic salts.
Aluminum zirconium (tricholorohydrex) has a multimodal method of action. In other words, it helps reduce out-of-control sweating of the feet in several ways.
- Your skin absorbs the substance, where the aluminum and zirconium ions trigger the skin cells to swell. This constricts the sweat glands, once closed they can’t release sweat. Besides this effect the substance also absorbs perspiration that does take place.
Commercial “clinical strength” antiperspirants containing aluminum zirconium are are a little stronger than typical antiperspirants. They are often applied at night and work for many people suffering from sweaty feet.
- Other antiperspirants have a slightly different method of action. Once applied to the skin the sweat from the sweat ducts pulls in the antiperspirant. It then fills up the sweat ducts (forms a plug) blocking them, thus preventing sweating from being secreted on the skin.
Aluminum chloride (hexahydrate) is another commonly used, generally effective active ingredient. If you need the strongest antiperspirant one that contains this ingredient will be your best option as dermatologists refer to aluminum chloride as “a particularly effective antiperspirant”.
Prescription-strength Drysol is an example of such an antiperspirant for the feet. However, Drysol is often linked to skin irritation whereas clinical strength brands such as seem to cause less skin irritation.
Aluminum salts do not stop your feet from sweating, they keep (parts of) the sweat from being released onto the skin
In terms of potency you could divide products in 3 categories:
- regular antiperspirants
- clinical strength
- prescription strength
Secret Clinical Strength offered a breakthrough leading to most antiperspirant brands now offering clinical strength
Just looking at the percentage and which ingredient may be a less confusing way to decide which product you need.
In case of serious foot sweating (plantar hyperhidrosis) a strength of 30% aluminum chloride is recommended. For instance by the International Hyperhidrosis Society.
Formulas with concentrations of 20 to 40 percent are typically used for the soles of the feet compared to the 15 to 20 percent concentrations prescribed for other areas of the body.
While over-the-counter antiperspirants may help with mild hyperhidrosis symptoms, products that contain high levels of aluminum-based compounds, are not always effective.
Aluminum chloride and aluminum chloride hexahydrate do offer relief to a certain extent to most sufferers from excessive foot sweating.
Dermatologists acknowledge that clinical strength or prescription strength antiperspirants “work slightly better than regular antiperspirants”.
If such commerically available products are not sufficient you can aquire stronger antiperspirants through prescription by your dermatologist. Do note that OTC products typically are linked with less skin irritation than prescription products such as prescription Drysol.
20% is the maximum amount of aluminum solutions available in an over-the-counter antiperspirant
Also good to know, it’s not only the percentage of active ingredient that determines how well it works. According to dermatologists, correct use also determines how effective the antiperspirant will be.
How to use
These antiperspirants should be applied at night when you sweat the least. This way the substance is better able to block the sweat glands.
When left on during the night, a lasting barrier will form which is less likely to be washed away in your morning shower or by initial sweating that may occur.
If you need more protection put on your antiperspirant at night time and in the morning. When you start, use it for several days on end for maximum effectivness.
- don’t forget to apply on the sides and top of your toes too
- your skin is constantly regenerating so you should keep applying the product otherwise sweating will return.
If you use the antiperspirant according to instructions you should see a dramatic reduction in the sweat that you produce. If not you may need a stronger concentration.
The best brands
The following are so called ‘clinical strength’ antiperspirants.
The strongest OTC antiperspirants you can use for your sweaty feet:
- Odaban Antiperspirant Spray. Has 20% Aluminum Chloride. If you are looking for the strongest commerically available product get Odaban. If you haven’t tried aluminum antiperspirants yet you may want to get one with a lower concentration since this may sting or burn. On the other hand, some users find Odaban to be more tolerable than other brands with lower aluminum concentrations such as Drysol and Certain Dri. This is probably due to the blend. Pros: powerful, spray. Cons: may cause skin irritation since it’s 20%.
- Driclor Roll On 20% Aluminum Chloride. Tip from one Amazon user, to save some money you could get a small squirt bottle and purchase the 75ml Drichlor Roll On instead of the Odaban spray. Pour the contents of the roll on into the bottle and you have more than double the solution for half the money. The Odaban spray is about $14 for 30 ml while the Driclor roll on is about $7 for 75 ml. Both contain 20% aluminum chloride hexahydrate. This does of course does involve some hassle.
Other brands offering clinical strength include Arrid, Gillette, Secret, Dove, Degree, PerspireX and Sure.
Recommended for sensitive skin and injured feet:
- Hydrosal Professional Antiperspirant Gel. 15% Aluminum Chloride (Hexahdrate) Pros: a gel may be less harsh on delicate skin than an alcohol based solution. Some studies confirm this. Cons: gels are less convenient than sprays. Less affordable.
Less potent yet very popular antiperspirants:
Keep in mind that although the following products may have more user reviews and higher sales numbers, they are used for other purposes than combating foot sweating too. Personally I would get a spray or gel for easier application.
- Sweat Block towelettes. 14% Aluminum Chloride (Hexahydrate) 4,5 stars 2038 user reviews.
- Maxim Extra Strong Roll On. 15% Aluminum chloride. Without alcohol. Probalbly less risk on drying out your skin and cause itch. 4,5 stars, 392 user reviews.
- Certain Dri Roll On. 4,5 stars 772 12% Aluminum Chloride. Comes in a, lower rated, solid stick version too.
If these don’t work, your next step is to get a doctor’s or dermatologist’s prescription for, for instance, Drysol deodorant.
Drysol contains 30% aluminum chloride. It is available in most drugstores however you can’t get it without your prescription.
Consult a dermatologist or a physician if your experience with the products does not produce a change in foot odor or sweating.
See your chiropodist if these treatments fail. You may need and even stronger “industrial strength” antiperspirant such as Xerac-AC®.
This preparation is so strong (and effective) that professional guidance is recommended.
Basically, what you feel after applying these substances is that your skin dries. It may dry out a bit even but the sweating will stop. Or significantly reduce.
Aluminum chloride is known to irritate the skin in some people according to WebMD. It is therefore recommended to strictly follow the instructions.
Some people experience a burning and itching sensation upon use. Others don’t feel anything.
Aluminum zirconium is less linked to side effects but is also known to be less effective.
- Is shrinking and closing off pores and sweat glands safe?
- Yes it is harmless since your body has much more pores and sweat glands. It simply redistributes perspiration the other thousands of square inches of your skin’s surface.
Topical aluminum health hazards?
You may have read warnings about aluminum in deodorants and antiperspirants. These controversial stories may have worried you.
Today, antiperspirants are still claimed to cause cancer and Alzheimer’s. They are claimed to do so by preventing the body from “purging toxins”.
It is true that aluminum can be toxic if swallowed and can also be a skin irritant but these rumors do not have any scientific backing.
There is no convincing scientific evidence for the link between using aluminum topically and diseases such as breast cancer and Alzheimer’s. WiseGeek notes,
As of 2012, no medical or environmental study had proved that aluminum zirconium — a common ingredient in antiperspirant — increases the risk for any disease, including breast cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.
And to zoom out instead of focusing on aluminum zirconium, WebMD states that “antiperspirants have no proven impact on the risk of diseases like breast cancer and Alzheimer’s.”
To control foot odor some people insist on using a deodorant that does not have ingredients perceived as harmful. Various of such all-natural, hypoallergenic, organic deodorants exist. How effective these are in case of serious foot sweating remains to be seen.
If you are more into natural or herbal remedies there are are also different brands that stick to 100% natural ingredients such as the Crystal company with their Natural Foot Deodorant Spray and the Gewhol’s Caring FootDeo Spray.
These too are available in roll on, sprays, lotions, creams, and powders. In fact there is much variety when shopping for foot deodorants.
You may have heard off zinc oxide as an active ingredient. This substance however is generally used to protect wet skin from getting irritated.
For example to treat and prevent diaper rash in babies. Or when your feet sweat a lot and skin irritation occurs zinc oxide helps protect your feet. So this is not a sweat reducing compound.
Popular products for foot odor control containing the active ingredient zinc oxide include Dr.Scholl’s Deodorant Foot Powder (has baking soda too), Gold Bond No Mess Spray Powder Fresh and Odor Destroyer Deodorant Powder.
Gold Bond Medicated Powder and Spray is great if you also suffer from foot fungus because it uses Menthol as a way to relieve itching and Sodium Bicarbonate to absorb moisture and control odor.
If you, despite aluminum’s proven effectiveness are looking for a botanical alternative I think you should look into this Elite Sportz foot and Shoe Odor Spray. Its active ingredients are essential oils.
It is very well-reviewed and seems to moisturize your feet and take care of your shoes too.
Advertised as the “Only Multi-Functional Moisturising and Deodorising “ALL Natural” Foot Care Product” it has 7 essential oils and 11 botanicals to reduce smelly feet and soothe dry cracked, callused itchy feet.
Nanosilver foot spray
Not as widely used as aluminum antiperspirants, colloidal silver is popular among some people. Silver Foot Spray is more a deodorant than an antiperspirant. Besides colloidal it has essential oils to fight off bacteria yet no ingredients known to block sweat glands.
Antiperspirants containing aluminum are safe and effective. They are available over-the-counter or via a dermatologist prescription
Since these are the typical first-line treatment, try an over-the-counter antiperspirant. If you are still having issues with sweaty feet and none of the over the counter products seem to be working for you, see your dermatologist to write you a prescription for Drysol.
The only difference between the over the counter products and the prescriptions is that the prescription products contain higher levels of the active ingredient which is often anything over 20%.
Sweaty feet is a bothersome condition but you can use foot deodorant and antiperspirants to make your life easier. Don’t forget to wear appropriate socks, use the best soap, get quality odor fighting and sweat reducing insoles, and let your shoes thorougly dry.
Stop worrying about taking off your shoes at a friend or family members house because of the odor. Enjoy being able to wear open toed shoes again and save yourself embarrassment with one of the products mentioned above.