Itching of the Feet: 9 Common Causes

Why You Have Itchy Feet and What to Do About It

Itching of the feet is often caused by dry, irritated skin. It can also be due to skin conditions like a fungal infection or eczema, or even something seemingly unrelated like neuropathy or liver disease.

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

This article looks at nine of the most common causes of itchy feet and how you can get relief.

An illustration with causes of itchy feet

Illustration by Daniel Fishel for Verywell Health

Dry Skin

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Dry, peeling skin
Dry, peeling skin.

ArveBettum / Getty Images

Dry skin (xerosis cutis) can be caused by environmental conditions or lifestyle factors. Some examples include:

You may also notice that your feet become drier as you age.

Your feet don't have any sebaceous glands, which produce oil to keep skin moisturized. 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.

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.


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.

Eczema on the feet, toes, and fingers is called dyshidrotic eczema. 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.

Skin Discoloration From Eczema

Conditions that cause skin discoloration, such as eczema, look different on different skin tones. Light-skinned people will likely have red or pink discoloration. Dark-skinned people may have darker or purplish patches.


Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes scaly, dry skin that can be very itchy. It can appear anywhere on the body, including the feet. 

When you have psoriasis, your immune system mistakenly attacks your skin cells. The scales and rash occur as your body overproduces skin cells as a result of this immune response.

What to do about it: Psoriasis can't be cured, but treatment with creams and lotions may reduce symptoms. Active ingredients in these products may include retinoids, salicylic acid, and/or corticosteroids. Some are available over-the-counter (OTC), but talk to your healthcare provider about prescription medications if OTC options aren't helpful.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis
Contact dermatitis.

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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.


Scabies is caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin. You can get scabies on any part of your body, including the soles of your feet. 

Scabies causes an extremely itchy rash that can look like small red blotches or bumps and thin, wavy lines.

What to do about it: Scabies is treated with topical creams that contain mite-killing insecticides. The first line of treatment is usually a 5% permethrin cream. If permethrin isn't effective, your healthcare provider may prescribe a .5% malathion lotion or oral ivermectin.

Liver Disease

Chronic liver disease can cause localized itching on the soles of the feet. It can also cause itching elsewhere, such as the palms or even all over the body.

What to do about it: Avoid scratching, since this can cause irritation. Excess scratching may even break the skin and lead to infection.

You may be able to reduce itching by using gentle, non-drying cleaners, avoiding hot environments, and taking cool showers. Using a humidifier in your home might also help.

Over-the-counter topical creams that contain corticosteroids or calcineurin inhibitors can help ease itching. If your itching is severe and doesn't improve after trying OTC medication, ask your healthcare provider about oral medication such as Prevalite (cholestyramine) or Rifadin (rifampicin).


If you have neuropathy, you may experience an itching sensation that isn't releived with scratching. This type of itching is caused by damage to the central or peripheral nervous system and is not related to the skin itself.

What to do about it: Because a neuropathic itch isn't a skin problem, topical creams and other anti-itch medications won't help. Talk to your healthcare provider about medication that may help improve your symptoms, such as Neurontin (gabapentin) or certain antidepressants. Some people also find botox injections to be helpful.

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 itch, talk to your healthcare provider.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease causes a build-up of waste products in the blood. This can lead to itchy skin rashes. This type of itching is known as uremic pruritus and commonly affects the soles of the feet. It can also occur on your palms.

What to do about it: The most effective way to treat itching related to kidney disease is to make sure the kidney disease itself is treated. It's also important to avoid scratching and stay away from potential triggers such as heat and harsh soaps and cleansers. Topical creams may also help. If not, ask your healthcare provider about medication such as Gralise (gabapentin).


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.

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.