Skin Conditions That Make Your Feet Itch

A persistent foot itch is aggravating. But it's hard to keep the skin healthy because of the stress and temperature extremes your feet are exposed to.

That leads to dry, irritated skin that's prone to itchiness (pruritus). It can also leave you vulnerable to fungal infections, which are even itchier.

Scratching may give temporary relief. But 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 get rid of it.

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. One example is atopic dermatitis (eczema).

It can also be caused by:

  • Low humidity
  • Cold temperatures
  • Weight-bearing stress
  • Aging
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Harsh skin cleansers

Your feet don't have any oil 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.

Regular use of creams or lotions may prevent skin cracking and relieve itchiness.

Recap

Feet get dry skin for many reasons. They contain no oil glands. The skin is thicker. Medical conditions or environmental factors can dry the skin and cause itchiness. Moisturizing can relieve the itch.

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, red, scaly rash. It can be all over your feet or just between your toes.

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

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

Recap

Athlete's foot is an itchy fungal infection. Breaking open blisters can increase the discomfort. This condition is treated with anti-fungal medications and topical corticosteroids.

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 red, 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 red, 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 

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.

Recap

Eczema is a group of conditions that cause itchy, red, scaly patches. Dyshidrotic eczema includes blisters and is especially itchy. Triggers may include prolonged dampness or hot, dry conditions. Topical medications can heal your skin and get rid of the itch.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis
Contact dermatitis.

PansLaos / Getty Images 

Contact dermatitis is a red, 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.

Contact dermatitis is treated with oral or topical corticosteroids and soothing topical products like calamine lotion.

Recap

Contact dermatitis is caused by irritants or allergens. It causes an itchy rash that may blister. A patch test can identify causes. It's treated with corticosteroids and soothing creams.

Summary

Feet can itch for many reasons. Sometimes your skin is just dry. Other times, you may have a condition like athlete's foot, eczema, or contact dermatitis.

Moisturizing or treatment with antifungals or corticosteroids can help clear up many problems and stop your feet from itching.

A Word From Verywell

If your feet itch, 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 athlete's foot, eczema, contact dermatitis, sunburn, psoriasis, insect bite, or skin conditions like epidermolysis bullosa (EB). Washing the feet using a mild soap and covering the blisters with a bandage or gauze can offer some relief, but effective treatment will depend on diagnosing the specific reason for the blisters' appearance.

  • How do I relieve itchy toes at night?

    If itchy toes at night aren't caused by eczema, an antihistamine like Benadryl may help you find relief. If there is a different reason for the itchiness, a dermatologist can review your symptoms and offer treatment.

  • Why does the bottom of my foot itch?

    Dyshidrotic eczema is commonly associated with the bottoms of feet being itchy. This skin condition is characterized by small blisters that form on the soles of feet as well as the palms of hands to cause extreme itchiness. Stress, seasonal allergies, and physical contact with allergens such as nickel often trigger a flare-up.

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7 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.
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