Sweaty Sock Syndrome

Sweaty Sock Syndrome

Sweaty Sock Syndrome (SSS)

Sweaty Sock Syndrome is a medical situation in which skin of the soles and toes of feet gets scaly, flaky, dry and red. It commonly affects children with an average age of 3-14 years, furthermore, it becomes severe in the summer season due to excessive perspiration. Socks and shoes manufactured from synthetic material are thought to be the reason for sweaty sock syndrome but till now there is no evident cause supported by scientific studies.

Sweaty Sock Syndrome, characterized as juvenile plantar dermatosis in the medicinal dictionary, was first explained in the 1970s. It is also recognized by other names around the globe. Some of which are as follows,

  • Moon-boot Foot syndrome
  • Atopic winter feet
  • Sweaty sock dermatitis
  • Forefoot dermatitis


Who gets affected by the Sweaty Sock Syndrome?

Atopic Children, like patients of Eczema, Asthma and Hay fever, are more vulnerable to be inflicted by this disease than others. But it is not restricted in terms of diagnosis and any child can develop this condition. The occurrence rate of Sweaty Sock Syndrome decreases with puberty, so it’s less common in adults. Although there is not any general reason connected with the gender of the patient yet the case studies have shown that the prevalence rate is more in boys as compared to girls.

What causes Sweaty Sock syndrome?


What causes juvenile plantar dermatosis?

Although there is no specific cause for this disease supported in the literature, yet wet-to-dry cycles are the expected reason behind the development of this disease. The mechanism associated with its progression is high moisture complied with sudden drying, which causes the skin to become scaly at the plantar regions of the feet. The keratin layer present at the bottom of the feet becomes hydrated due to sweat and later due to sudden dehydration, it leads to cracking. Continual exposure of this cycle leads to the accretion of micro-damage in the foot. Other causes include:

  • Ceaseless frictional movements (continuous movement of feet in shoes, particularly during walking)
  • Sensitive skin that reacts rapidly to allergens
  • Fully covered footwear
  • Socks made of thin fabric with a meagre absorptive limit
  • Enormous sweating (hyperhidrosis)
  • Extreme climate changes like high sweating in the summer season and winter boots in winter are the reasons for juvenile plantar dermatosis or Sweaty Sock Syndrome.

Symptoms of Sweaty Sock Syndrome:

Symptoms of Sweaty Sock Syndrome are as follows:

  • Scars
  • Under-eye, dark circles
  • Redness
  • Acne, dryness, wrinkles and cracking of weight-bearing area of the foot

Sweaty sock syndrome damages the epidermal ridge arrangement (which is the upper layer of skin that forms fingerprints). It barely affects the fingertips and palms because these are not weight bearing parts of the body. Both of the feet are damaged in a symmetrical manner.

Diagnosis of Sweaty Sock Syndrome:

Diagnosis of Sweaty Sock Syndrome includes the physical analysis of feet. Moreover, differential diagnosis of juvenile plantar syndrome or Sweaty Sock Syndrome includes,

  • Psoriasis Atopic Eczema
  • Fungal Infection
  • Contact Dermatitis
  • Exfoliative Keratolysis
  • Excessive sweating in palms and beneath the feet

Other than these factors, a person having a history of Eczema is also vulnerable to be inflicted by Sweaty Sock Syndrome.

Sometimes, diagnosis is dependent upon the clinical tests and researches. Skin scrapping is done to take the samples of the fungal infection. To know about the allergy type patch test may be performed by your doctor. Sometimes a skin biopsy is required for detailed results. The histological results show the Dermal infection and Spongiosis (Accumulation of fluid that may lead to vesicle formation) near the infected sweat ducts. To eliminate the fungal corruption skin scraping is done.

Treatment of Sweaty Sock Syndrome:

The simplest way to control Sweaty Sock Syndrome is to lower the amount of abrupt wet-to-dry cycles. Although there is no permanent treatment for this medical condition yet physicians advise the patients to follow the instructions that minimize the severity of symptoms. Some of the recommendations are as follows,

Reduce friction:

  • Leather shoes that are more fitted to your feet to reduce the friction
  • Wearing two or more cotton socks
  • Do not use footwear made of synthetic material
  • Keep changing the socks at regular intervals

Greasing the dry skin:

  • Must apply the ointment that contains petroleum and urea. Try to use it after the bath and before going to bed.
  • Creams having the “Dimethicone” can be applied after every 4 hours. This compound helps in feasible absorption in the skin.

Cover cracks:

  • The cuts on the heels are healed faster when they are not exposed to the environment.
  • The most satisfactory thing is the plasters that have the ability to adhere. By covering the plantar regions of the feet, plasters assist in sealing and healing the cracks.
  • To reduce the pain in the fissures, sprays and liquid glues can also be used.

Take rest regularly:

  • Having some free time with no walking can also reduce the fissures.


  • Steroids and Tacrolimus containing ointments heal the dry skin rapidly.

Frequently asked questions about Sweaty Sock Syndrome

How is juvenile plantar dermatosis treated?

The best treatment is to cure it yourself by following some simple lifestyle hacks. Try having thin footwear, keeping thicker socks, avoiding the sudden dryness of moistened feet. Wearing the shoes for most of the time can also lower the chances of dryness. The essence of the treatment is to apply the ointment recommended by the doctor on the affected area right after the removal of shoes or contact with the water. This keeps the upper surface of the feet from drying out rapidly. Don’t use skin irritants in the form of different products and soaps.

Why do my daughter’s feet peel? / Why do my child’s feet peel?

There can be several reasons for the peeling of the skin on the soles of feet. Some of those are Eczema, Dermatitis, Psoriasis, Fungal allergy and Sweaty Sock Syndrome. It is better to consult a dermatologist for the diagnosis of the condition. Although exfoliating of the upper layer of the skin can be normal yet it is also a symptom of some severe medical conditions like Psoriasis and Eczema.





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