The cause of sweaty sock syndrome is unknown, though alternating moist and dry conditions may lead to the condition. It tends to be a long-lasting (chronic) condition, lasting, on average, about 3 years. Sweaty sock syndrome usually goes away when a child reaches puberty.
Children who have eczema (atopic dermatitis) seem to have a higher risk for developing sweaty sock syndrome.
- Big toe
- Ball of the foot
Sweaty sock syndrome occurs as shiny, red patches on the weight-bearing surfaces of the feet. The skin appears tight and smooth. Occasionally, painful cracks (fissures) may be present. Even though children may complain of heavy sweating, the skin feels dry and scaly.
- Wear sandals or breathable shoes.
- Avoid wearing shoes with rubber or plastic soles.
- Wear thick cotton socks and change them if they get sweaty or wet.
- Use gentle, non-soap cleansers.
- Apply greasy moisturizers, such as petroleum jelly (Vaseline®), at night.
- Apply barrier creams containing dimethicone during the day.
- Seal cracks in the skin (fissures) with liquid bandage or superglue.
However, athlete's foot is much more common than sweaty sock syndrome, so the physician may want to try a course of topical antifungal creams before concluding that your child has the later.
Once the diagnosis of sweaty sock syndrome has been confirmed, the doctor may recommend the following in addition to the self-care measures mentioned above:
- Prescription-strength topical corticosteroid (cortisone) cream
- Antihistamine pills, if itching is severe