What Causes Itchy Feet?

If you have itchy feet, what might be the cause? Well, it's summertime and we're active hiking and walking or at the beach and elsewhere. One of the most common things, of course, is athlete's foot.

Signs of Athlete's Foot

The most common place for athlete's foot to occur is between the toes, particularly between the fourth and fifth and third and fourth toes that tend to hug each other more often. It's accompanied by moisture and the skin can be white. It also can show typically red dots. But that's not the only place. So athlete's foot can also happen in the soles of the foot. And it can be present within callous tissue and not show any blisters at all. Again, the itching is intense, the hallmark sign of athlete's foot.

With athlete's foot, typically this is treated with over-the-counter cream. One of the most common ones available is called Lamisil, L-A-M-I-S-I-L. And it's treated twice a week for three weeks. My rule there is don't stop when the itch stops or you lose. The fungus is smart and people treat for one week and then it comes back and wonder what they did wrong.

Dry Skin

What are couple of other causes for itching of the feet? Well, if you're wearing a lot of sandals and it's summertime, the skin dries out. And dry skin alone can cause itching. And if you're scratching it a lot, this can further exacerbate the problem. So moisturize your feet well, not between the toes, and this may help greatly.

Reaction to Chemicals in Shoes

A couple of other causes for itching of the feet can actually be a reaction to the chemicals within our shoes. So if you're going barefoot and wearing loafers and tennis shoes, it's hot out, you can get a rash on the foot. And typically, with this kind of reaction, a primary contact dermatitis, you'll see a somewhat of a rash going all along the borders of the foot and around the sides that match exactly where the shoe contacts your foot.

Pitted Keratolysis

Lastly is a little less common disorder in which the foot looks like it was soaked in water too long, particularly in the ball of the foot. And here, the skin turns white and there are little tiny holes in the skin with fairly intense itching. This is not athlete's foot. It's actually caused by a bacterium and is called Pitted Keratolysis. It requires a prescription topical medication to resolve the problem.

So if you're having itching of your feet and it's not responding to your current methods of over-the-counter treatment, come in and let's distinguish between these causes and help you resolve the problem quickly.

Additional Reading on What Causes Itching

What Does Athlete's Foot Have to Do With Toenail Fungus?

How to Prevent and Treat Dry Skin and Other Winter Foot Problems


Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.