7 Common Skin Problems of the Feet

Infection is the likely cause

Many different skin problems affect your feet, some more common than others. The usual cause of rash or skin lesions on the feet is an infection, whether it's fungal, bacterial, or viral. Simple irritation or allergic reactions are also a fairly common cause of the rash. Sometimes these skin conditions have similar characteristics, which makes them tricky to identify or to treat with over-the-counter products. It's best to seek medical attention for the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions.


Athlete's Foot

Athlete's foot
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Tinea pedis, more commonly known as athlete's foot, is an infection that's caused by fungus. The typical symptoms are an itchy and red rash that usually affects the soles of the feet and between the toes. Chronic tinea pedis causes a scaly rash that can be mistaken for dry skin, whereas acute tinea pedis can cause a painful, red, and blistering rash.



Foot wart

Catherine Moyer, DPM

The medical term for a wart is verruca plantaris. Warts, or verruca, can be small, singular lesions or large ones that cluster together. They are generally circular and occur on the soles (plantar surface) or sides of the feet. They are often mistaken for a corn or callus because they can have a similar hardened appearance on the surface. The difference is that warts are caused by a virus and can, and therefore, are more difficult to eradicate.


Bacterial Infections

Ingrown toenail treatment

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Bacterial infections of the feet have a variety of presentations. The skin surrounding the toenails are among the most common areas for bacterial infections. An ingrown toenail often leads to a bacterial infection, especially if left untreated. Sometimes bacterial infections are mistaken for athlete's foot because they may have a similar red or painful rash. Certain bacterial infections can spread quickly and require immediate care, especially when associated with a wound.



Fungus Toenail
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A toenail fungal infection, or onychomycosis, is a common problem. The classic signs of onychomycosis are nail thickening, discoloration, and changes to the nail's texture—such as flakiness or debris. The infection is likely to extend through the entire nail and affect the skin below, which is why onychomycosis can be difficult to clear up. Onychomycosis isn't just a cosmetic concern—it often causes pain arising from excess shoe pressure and in some cases creates susceptibility to bacterial infection.




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Eczema presents with symptoms similar to athlete's foot. Eczema can appear as small, circular areas of thick, scaly skin or as larger, less distinct lesions. Eczema can be caused by sensitivity to something the skin has come in contact with, such as a chemical, or it can be a reaction to overly moist or dry skin. A common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis, a skin condition that is often experienced in conjunction with allergies or sensitivities.



A close up shot of a hikers blistered heel.

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The most obvious cause of blisters is excess friction from shoes, especially from long-distance walking or running. However, blisters on the feet can be a symptom of other conditions as well, such as diabetes, poison ivy, athlete's foot, allergic contact dermatitis, and dyshidrotic eczema. In young children, hand, foot, and mouth disease, which is caused by a coxsackievirus, can be a cause of blisters on the soles of the feet.


Corns and Calluses

Dry rough foot (XXXL)

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Corns and calluses are thickened areas of the skin's uppermost layer or stratum corneum. They develop in response to areas of excess pressure against the skin, such as on the toes, under the ball of the foot or heel areas. Sometimes corns can entrap tiny blood vessels or nerves, which makes them either painful or bleed easily when shaved down. Where a corn or callus develops on your feet often points to what type of foot problem you have.

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