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Itching Skin on the Feet

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Itching Skin on the Feet

Itching skin is very common. It can be caused by a numb er of things, including certain medications, changes in the blood flow, infections, parasites, allergic reactions, and skin conditions (such as eczema and psoriasis). Most commonly, itching skin of the feet is caused by athlete's foot or, simply, dryness.

Itching feet can be treated by moisturizing the skin with lotion. For stubborn cases, you can apply a nonprescription antihistamine oor cortisone cream in addtion to the moisturizer. Be careful, however, not to treat athlete's foot with cortisone cream because this could make the condition worse. Conctact your doctor if itching persists.
Some skin changes are more difficult to diagnose and treat. The conditions listed below should be evaluated by a medical professional so that appropriate treatment can be initiated.


Eczema is a condition where dry, itchy patches of skin form on the lower legs or feet. Outbreaks are sometimes also found on the trunk or arms as well. There are a few different forms of eczema, each with its own unique characteristics. The skin lesions may be caused by allergic reactions, nutritional deficiencies, hereditary factors, or circulation changes.

The dry, itching skin can crack, bleed, or break open if it is scratched. Emoliants, topical cortisone cream,and petroleum jelly are often  used to treat eczema. Occasionally, however, topical or oral antibiotics are needed  if a secondary infection develops.


Treatment is dependent on which type of eczema is present. For this reason, you should see a doctor if you think you have eczema


Psoriasis is a hereditary skin disorder that causes skin  lesions, swelling, and arthritis. It appears as itchy patches of silvery scales on the elbows, scalp, forearms, back, hands, or feet. It can make wearing shoes and socks uncomfortable and even painful. While 75 percent of those with psoriasis are affected at an early age, 25 percent do not see symptoms until age fifty or later.

Psoriasis of the feet is best evaluated and treated by a rhumatologist or a dermatologist working with a podiatrist. Without proper treatment, psoriasis is persistent and can even become infected.
And,although it is not contagious, it can spread to affect larger patches of skin. To the untrained eye, psoriasis can be confused with calluses or athlete's foot and, therefore, may not be treated properly. Contact your doctor if you think you may have psoriasis.



Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions can cause itching, redness, hives, bumps, and blisters. The most common cause of allergic reactions on the skin of the feet are new shoes, new socks, new laundry detergent, or a bandage. In fact, a good indication of an allergic reaction is that often the irritated area has the shape of whatever caused the reaction, such as straps from a sandal. Leather is not usually an allergen, but shoe leather may contain other materials, such as synthetics, dyes, or adhesives, that do cause allergic reactions.

Many socks contain synthetic elastic fibres that can cause or contribute to rashes. Latex and other synthetic rubbers are highly allergenic for some people. In addition to what people put over their feet, what they put on their feet can also trigger or contribute to allergic reactions. Adhesives found in tapes or bandages are allergens for some. And some people are allergic to creams, lotions, powders, and even topical antibiotics. Of special concern are over-the-counter corn and callus treatments. In people with poor circulation, diabetes, or numbness, these treatments can cause severe skin reactions.


Sometimes allergens get on the skin unintentionally. People who are allergic to plants such as poison ivy and poison oak should wash off any oily residue with soap and water as quickly as possible in order to minimize the severity of the skin reaction.

Some allergic reactions are caused by what people put in to the body. People who take multiple medications may be vulnerable to generalized skin rashes. If a change in or an addition of medications has preceded a rash outbreak, inform the prescribing physician immediately. Such a rash is a sign of a serious side effect and should be evaluated by a medical professsional. Foods and drinks can also cause allergic reactions. As with medications, suspected food and drink allergies should be immediately evaluated by a physician .
Basic treatment of an allergic reaction on the feet consists of washing the skin, applying a powder to absorb moisture and residual allergens, and using a topical cortisone cream to decrease the itching, inflammation, and redness. Of course, you should also remove the suspected triggering agent (s). If the itching and rash do not respond to treatment, consult a physician.
Parasitic Infestations

Parasite infestations can be intensly itchy, especially at night. The parasite burrows under the skin leaving a curved track that can be seen in the itching area. Sometimes ther are small blisters present as well. Norwegian or keratotic scabies can produce white scales under and around the toenails and then spread to the surrounding skin. Suspected parasite infestations should be diagnosed and treated by a physician.

Reference: Great Feet For Life: Paul Langer, DPM 

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