Pruritus is the medical term for itchiness caused by an irritating sensation on your skin that makes you want to scratch. This can occur anywhere on your skin. Your feet are especially vulnerable because they tend to be placed in sweaty situations with various types of footwear. Many situations can lead to itchy feet, including exposure to:

  • moisture
  • dry environments that lead to dry skin
  • irritants, when walking barefoot
  • infectious bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi

Although itchy feet are not usually a cause for concern, they can indicate an underlying skin condition or even a deeper internal disease. Understanding what symptoms you should and should not be worried about can help you find relief from worry.

What causes itchy feet?

Itchy feet may stem from a number of causes, including:

Foot itch caused by a medical condition may be related to an increase in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. For this reason, your doctor might prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication to treat itchiness.

Medical conditions that cause itchy feet include:

Skin conditions

Skin conditions that cause the feet to itch include:

Five Causes Behind Itching Feet and How to Treat Them.

Would you rather walk across a bed of hot coals than deal with your persistently itching feet? The smallest rash can be infuriating when you’re seeking relief to no avail..

The good news? There are simple treatments for most of the skin conditions that cause your feet to itch. Let’s take a look at five underlying causes of feet itching and what you can do about them.

Ready to learn more? Put down the pumice stone and let’s take a look!

1. Dry Skin

As important as they are to our overall well being and stability, feet are commonly neglected parts of our bodies. This is especially true when it comes to moisturizing. Elbows and knees seem to get priority while our feet remain dry, resulting in small cracks in the skin.

If you have itching feet it could be a result of not replenishing the moisture lost throughout the day leading to dry skin.

Conditions such as arid temperatures, excessive sandal wearing, and harsh cleansers can increase the likelihood of developing dry skin on the feet. It is important to wash the feet daily, pat dry with a towel, and immediately apply a moisturizer avoiding between the toes.

The podiatrists at Family Foot & Ankle Centers can prescribe special lotions and creams that can combat this condition and protect your feet.

2. A Fungal Infection

Not only is Athlete’s Foot unsightly and highly contagious but it also results in some of the most maddening itching.

If you have it on the soles of your feet the infection will frequently show up as a widespread rash with red bumps and dryness. If it’s between your toes the area will usually turn white and appear moist. In some cases of athletes feet, blisters may develop that itch and then may ooze a clear fluid.

Anti-fungal prescription medicines clear this condition relatively quickly. There are also medications available over the counter that can be attempted first. It is important to wash the feet daily and apply the fungal medicine immediately after drying the feet.

3. Contact Dermatitis

In short, this is an itching condition that occurs because of something that touched the skin and irritated your feet.

Types of things that can cause dermatitis are chemicals and glues used to make shoes, various sock fabrics, perfumes, body washes and many more. Begin by identifying what’s causing the rash and eliminate it. If you can’t determine the cause then patch testing can help pinpoint it.

The podiatrists at Family Foot & Ankle Centers will evaluate your condition and prescribe the appropriate medication that can help soothe your skin and prevent further irritation.

4. Eczema

You might be used to seeing dry, patchy skin on your knees or elbows but eczema is also common on your feet. This frequently occurs on the toes and sides of the feet and may look like an allergic reaction.

If you suffer from eczema your causes of inflammation and dryness may be different from someone else’s. You might get it from overexposure to moisture or it may result from excessively dry skin but there is no one cause for Eczema.

Topical prescription creams are available to reduce inflammation, balance your skin’s pH level, add needed moisture and protect your feet.

5. Bug Bites

When a bug bites your feet it triggers an inflammation reaction within your body that releases a chemical known as histamine which makes the bite itch. Depending on the season, you might have an itchy foot due to a mosquito bite, bee sting or another irritating pest. In addition to itching, you might also feel a burning or stinging sensation.

Exposure to irritants

An irritant can be any substance that causes a reaction in or on your body. They can even be medications or topical ointments that you use to treat other conditions.

Medications known to cause body and feet itchiness include opioids or narcotics, such as morphine sulfate, ACE inhibitors, and statins.

What are the symptoms and signs of itchy feet?

Itchy feet will make you want to scratch your skin. Changes to your skin may accompany the itchy sensation. Examples of skin changes are:

  • blisters
  • cracked, open areas
  • dry, scale-like plaques
  • itching
  • rash
  • redness
  • swelling
  • white spots

It’s also possible for your feet to itch with no accompanying physical skin surface changes.

When to seek medical help

See your doctor if your itchy feet don’t improve with home care or if your symptoms get worse with time.

Your doctor will take a thorough medical history and conduct a physical exam to diagnose itchy feet causes. The questions they might ask you include:

  • Have you recently started taking any new medications?
  • Have you been exposed to any potential irritants?
  • Do you have any chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes mellitus or eczema?
  • Have any family members, friends, or teammates recently experienced any skin-related concerns?

If necessary, your doctor can perform tests including:

  • skin scraping
  • culture
  • biopsy
  • blood tests

Some tests can check areas in or on top of your skin for the presence of germs, such as a fungus.

How are itchy feet treated?

Your doctor will treat itchy feet according to the cause. For allergic reactions, avoiding the product or products causing the allergic reaction can help to reduce itchiness.

Treatments that may relieve itchy feet include the following:

  • An H1-blocker antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), may help relieve itchiness. Antihistamines can have sedative and other unexpected side effects. Older adults may need to avoid using them.
  • If you have athlete’s foot, antifungal sprays or creams may help. Chronic fungal infections may require a doctor-prescribed antifungal treatment.
  • Topical anti-itch medication, emollients like petrolatum, and steroid creams may help reduce itching localized on the skin surface.
  • Additionally, prescription medications like SSRIs, gabapentin or tricyclic antidepressants may be beneficial in certain patients.

How can I prevent itchy feet?

Good foot care habits can help reduce itchy feet and prevent some causes, such as a fungal infection. This includes always wearing waterproof shoes, such as flip-flops, in shared shower facilities or gym floors. You can also use these foot care measures:

  • refrain from putting on shoes and socks until your feet are completely dry
  • wash your feet regularly with mild soap, paying careful attention to the areas between your toes and applying moisturizer after you finish bathing
  • wear cotton or wool socks
  • wear shoes that are well-ventilated, such as those with mesh holes that help the feet stay dry

If you experience regular episodes of athlete’s foot, you may need to apply an antifungal powder to your feet before you put on your socks or shoes