4 Skin Conditions That Cause Itchy Feet

Why You Have Itchy Feet and What to Do About It

It can be difficult to keep the skin on your feet healthy because they are often exposed to stress and temperature extremes. This can lead to a variety of conditions that cause dry, irritated skin prone to itchiness (pruritus). It can also leave you vulnerable to fungal infections, which are even itchier.

Scratching may give temporary relief. Unfortunately, though, it can lead to a bacterial infection—which also causes itching.

This article looks at the most common causes of itchy feet and how you can relieve the itch.

causes of itchy feet
Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin

Dry Skin

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Dry, peeling skin
Dry, peeling skin.

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Dry skin (xerosis cutis) is often caused by a medical condition such as eczema. It can also be caused by:

Your feet don't have any oil (sebaceous) glands. The skin is thicker than on other parts of your body as well.

When you add prolonged pressure and friction from standing or walking, the skin can get especially thick and hard.

What to do about it: Regular use of creams or lotions may prevent skin cracking and relieve itchiness.

Diabetes and Itchy Feet

Diabetes can cause itching, including itchy feet. It may signal that you're at risk for nerve damage. If you have diabetes and develop a persistent itchy, talk to your healthcare provider.

Fungal Infections

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Athlete's Foot
Fungal infection on foot.

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Athlete's foot (tinea pedis) is a common, highly contagious fungal infection. It causes an itchy, discolored, scaly rash. It can be all over your feet or just between your toes.

An acute type of athlete's foot causes a discolored, inflamed rash with blisters. Scratching can burst the blisters and cause more irritation.

What to do about it: Athlete's foot is treated with anti-fungal medications and sometimes topical corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and itching.

Eczema

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Dyshydrotic eczema
Dyshydrotic eczema on foot.

Iuliia Mikhalitskaia / Getty Images 

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is an umbrella term for a group of conditions that involve skin inflammation. They all cause discolored scaly patches that itch a lot.

The cause is unknown. Researchers think genetics and environmental factors both contribute.

Dyshidrotic eczema forms on the tips or sides of your toes and fingers. It's intensely itchy. It also causes discolored scaly areas of cracked skin with tiny blisters.

Everyone has different triggers for eczema outbreaks. Typical triggers include:

  • Irritation from staying damp
  • Overly dry skin from excess heat and low humidity 

What to do about it: Eczema is treated with topical skin creams and ointments. They rehydrate skin, balance the skin's pH (acidity), and protect skin from dryness and sweat.

Topical corticosteroids can help with inflammation.

Discoloration

Conditions that cause skin discoloration look different on different skin tones. White and other fair-skinned people will likely have red or pink discoloration. Black people and others with dark skin may have darker or purplish patches.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis
Contact dermatitis.

PansLaos / Getty Images 

Contact dermatitis is a discolored, itchy, often blistering rash. It's caused by your skin coming in contact with an irritant or allergen (a substance that triggers allergies).

Those irritants and allergens can include: 

  • Glues or chemicals found in shoes
  • Antibiotic ointments containing neomycin
  • Poison ivy
  • Adhesives
  • Perfumes
  • Chemicals in skin and nail products

Your healthcare provider can order a patch test to see what's bothering your skin. Avoiding those substances is key to feeling better.

What to do about it: Contact dermatitis is treated with oral or topical corticosteroids and soothing topical products like calamine lotion.

Summary

Itchy feet can come from several causes. Sometimes your skin is just dry. Other times, you may have a condition like athlete's foot, eczema, or contact dermatitis.

Moisturizers, antifungals, or corticosteroids can help clear up many problems and stop your feet from itching.

A Word From Verywell

If you have itchy feet, you're not sure why, and you don't know what to do about it, see a healthcare provider. They can diagnose the problem and help you find the right solution.

Some skin problems can take a while to clear up, even with proper treatment. Stick with it so you can find relief and have healthy feet.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes itchy blisters on feet?

    Itchy blisters on feet can be caused by:

    Washing your feet with mild soap and covering the blisters with a bandage or gauze can offer some relief. Long-term, effective treatment depends on getting an accurate diagnosis.

  • How do I relieve itchy toes at night?

    If itchy feet at night aren't caused by eczema, an antihistamine (allergy pill) like Benadryl may help you find relief. If not, talk to your healthcare provider or dermatologist.

  • Why does the bottom of my foot itch?

    Dyshidrotic eczema is commonly associated with the itchy soles of the feet. This skin condition involves small blisters on the soles and palms of your hands. Stress, seasonal allergies, and physical contact with allergens such as nickel often trigger a flare-up.

  • What types of cancer could cause itchy feet?

    Types of cancer most likely to make you itch include:

    However, other causes of itching are much more common.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Wang X, Shi XD, Li LF, Zhou P, Shen YW. Classification and possible bacterial infection in outpatients with eczema and dermatitis in China: A cross-sectional and multicenter study. Medicine (Baltimore). 2017;96(35):e7955. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000007955

  2. Moncrieff G, Cork M, Lawton S, Kokiet S, Daly C, Clark C. Use of emollients in dry-skin conditions: consensus statement. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2013;38(3):231-8. doi:10.1111/ced.12104

  3. American Podiatric Medical Association. Athlete's foot.

  4. National Eczema Association. An overview of the different types of eczema.

  5. Parker J, Scharfbillig R, Jones S. Moisturisers for the treatment of foot xerosis: a systematic review. J Foot Ankle Res. 2017;10:9. doi:10.1186/s13047-017-0190-9

  6. Uter W, Werfel T, White IR, Johansen JD. Contact allergy: A review of current problems from a clinical perspective. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(6):1108. doi:10.3390/ijerph15061108

  7. National Eczema Association. Dyshidrotic eczema.

  8. Larson VA, Tang O, Ständer S, Kang S, Kwatra SG. Association between itch and cancer in 16,925 patients with pruritus: Experience at a tertiary care centerJournal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2019. 80(4):931-937. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2018.08.044

By Catherine Moyer, DPM
Catherine Moyer, DPM, is a podiatrist experienced in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders of the foot and ankle.