What Is Sweaty Sock Syndrome (Juvenile Plantar Dermatosis)

What Is Sweaty Sock Syndrome (Juvenile Plantar Dermatitis)

What The Expert Has To Say

Sweaty Sock Syndrome is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. When I was about 8 years old, I started suffering from cracks that would form on the soles of my feet. They would happen on the ball of my feet, the heel, but never between the toes. I suffered for 2-3 years from this. It hurt to walk. I do recall that at that time in my childhood, I always wore closed-toe shoes with poor ventilation and thick white athletic socks.

Fast forward a few years, when I was doing my residency for pediatrics in Los Angeles, I learned about a disease entity called Juvenile Plantar Dermatosis and its colloquial name Sweaty Sock Syndrome, and I thought what a clever name for a medical condition. Then seconds later I recalled all the discomfort I went through as a child. Juvenile Plantar Dermatosis is one of the lesser-known types of eczema but can be a real burden to those it affects.

Why did this happen to me?

According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, the feet get wet from wearing socks and shoes that don’t breathe well, and then when the feet rapidly dry out it can lead to cracking and fissuring of the soles of the feet. When this rapid drying happens over and over again this causes micro-damage to the soles of the feet.

This problem can happen more in kids with a history of atopic dermatitis  (eczema) or excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis). Socks get even sweatier in the hot summer and this can worsen the condition.

Sometimes synthetic dyes or rubber found in shoes can be a problem, and it may be good to see if one has developed an allergy to one of these items. This is called Allergic Contact Dermatitis and can be evaluated by conducting patch testing.

Symptoms Of Juvenile Plantar Dermatosis

Some of the most common symptoms that you may notice while experiencing sweaty sock syndrome are:

  • Cracking and peeking of soles
  • Shiny and glazed soles
  • Redness
  • Scaly skin
  • Painful fissures

Who Is At Risk?

Children between the ages of 4 to 8 years and 3 to 15 years are more likely to develop this skin condition. It is more common in boys than it is in girls. There are chances you may experience it for the first time in your adulthood. 

Other Similar Skin Conditions

Other skin conditions that may cause similar symptoms to juvenile plantar dermatosis which makes it difficult to distinguish the condition are:

  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Tinea pedis
  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • Keratolysis exfoliative
  • Fungal infection

Treating Juvenile Plantar Dermatosis

It is reassuring to know that sweaty sock syndrome will end usually by the time of the onset of puberty. Until then, 

  • Wear well-fitting shoes that are breathable. This will reduce friction and prevent the foot from getting as sweaty. 
  • Wear cotton socks and if they get moist change them. 
  • Finally, take the shoes off when you get home. 
  • Since a large part of the problem is the rapid drying of the foot after coming out of the sweaty socks, one should immediately apply an irritant-free moisturizing cream or ointment.  It can be helpful to keep a daily moisturizing eczema cream around the house.
  • If the cracks are bad enough, scheduling some downtime with little or no walking may allow fissures to heal. Your physician may also advise using a steroid preparation for the affected area
  • Avoid wearing shoes and socks made from synthetic material. 
  • In severe cases, the doctor may prescribe the application of topical steroids and tacrolimus to the affected area. 
  • Teach children how to take proper hygiene care of their feet. 

Using an ointment may feel uncomfortable and slippery, which is why using a non-greasy yet hydrating cream may be of value. Ingredients found in creams like glycerin and licorice root extract can help infuse moisture and soothe redness. 

Happy Cappy Moisturizing Cream is a non-greasy, fast-absorbing moisturizing cream. It is infused with natural ingredients that help soothe irritated skin, hydrate it all day long, and help restore the skin’s natural barrier. It is clinically tested and is free from harsh chemicals like

  • Fragrances
  • Dyes
  • Paraben
  • Sulfate
  • Phthalates
  • Gluten

Which is why it is safe to be used by people of all ages–especially babies.


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Dr. Eddie Valenzuela is an award winning pediatrician and the founder and CEO of Pediatric Solutions, LLC.

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Why is my toddler's skin peeling on the feet?

If your toddler’s feet' skin is peeling, they may be experiencing juvenile plantar dermatitis. This is common in kids ages 3 to 14 and can be managed by avoiding excessive sweating through a selection of appropriate footwear and moisturizing the skin when cracking or peeling. It is best to use a moisturizer formulated for sensitive skin, such as Happy Cappy Eczema Cream. If footwear and moisturizing are not working and the foot is still uncomfortably peeling and cracking a doctor can prescribe steroid ointments or creams to help

Can juvenile plantar dermatitis be cured?

This dermatitis usually goes away when the kids reach puberty, but there are chances that it may also persist in adulthood. It can not be cured entirely but can be easily managed by keeping the skin clean, dry, and sweat-free.

What does sweaty sock syndrome look like?

It usually affects the heel and sole. It appears as a red, scaly rash beneath the feet.

Is sweaty sock syndrome painful?

Sweaty sock syndrome causes red, cracks rashes beneath the feet. In some cases, these cracks may become dry and painful.

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