VHI’s Dr Bernadette Carr: sweaty feet and croup

My husband’s feet have a tendency to sweat. In the last six months it seems to have got worse and I think it has worried him. Have you any suggestions?

This must be very distressing for your husband. Excessive sweating where you sweat more than normal is very common and tends to affect the palms of the hands, scalp, groin, armpits and soles of the feet. It may not happen all the time and the severity can vary. It affects both female and male equally, and up to two thirds of people with this condition have a family history.

Anxiety (even anxiety about sweating), spicy foods and heat can trigger excessive sweating but often there is no obvious trigger. As your husband has experienced an increase in sweating over the last six months I would advise him to make an appointment with his GP, who can examine him and rule out any underlying medical condition as the cause.

While he is waiting for his appointment here are some general suggestions for him which he may find helpful:

* Wear cotton socks and change at least twice daily.

* Wash feet frequently and dry thoroughly. Use emollient washers and moisturisers rather than soap-based cleansers.

* Use an absorbent foot powder twice daily as warm, moist feet tend to encourage the development of fungal infections.

* Don’t wear the same pair of shoes all the time; alternate at least two pairs.

* Wear shoes made from natural (leather) rather than synthetic material.

It would be useful for his GP, if your husband had a note of how often this excessive sweating happens and if he has noticed anything recently which might trigger the sweating. He should also bring details of any medication, prescription and over-the-counter, that he is taking.

I am sure that your GP will be able to reassure your husband and advise him how to mange this.

My nephew was recently diagnosed with croup; I didn’t think that you could get croup these days. Is it contagious?

Croup is an infection of infants and toddlers and there are outbreaks every year particularly in late autumn and early winter; boys are affected more than girls. It is usually mild and most children will recover within a week or so. Croup is caused by a virus and unusually by bacteria such as Staphylococcus Aureus; in most cases the parainfluenza virus and is an infection of the larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe). Symptoms include a runny nose, sore throat, hoarseness, generally feeling unwell and a distinctive bark-like cough when you breathe in which is usually worse at night. If someone with croup develops breathing difficulties, urgent medical treatment is required.

Croup is spread by contact with someone who is infected or touching contaminated objects and surfaces.

As most croup is caused by a virus, it is difficult to prevent catching it but I would make the following general suggestions regarding hygiene which may help:

* Ensure that everyone washes their hands frequently to prevent the virus entering through the eyes or nose; do so frequently and thoroughly with soap and water and before preparing food.

* Be careful touching objects when away from home such as keyboards and door handles, carry an alcohol based hand gel.

* Use tissues to cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough and throw them away immediately after use.

* Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

* Regular exercise is important; include some form of exercise everyday. Get a good night’s sleep.

* Try to reduce stress levels.

I hope your nephew makes a speedy recovery.


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