Why Are My Feet Itchy?!

You’re sitting in an important meeting, you’re stuck in traffic, you’re standing in the checkout line and all you can think about is how soon you can take your shoes off and scratch your itchy feet.  While it’s generally not a sign of a serious problem that irritating itch can temporarily take over your life.

The medical term for that random itch is pruritis and it can occur basically anywhere you have skin, but is particularly common in feet.  When you think about it, your feet often operate in less than ideal conditions: when you have on shoes your feet can get sweaty and damp; when you go barefoot your feet are at risk of everything from poison ivy to fungus infections.  Even something as simple as a change in laundry detergent can fire up those itches.

If the irritation persists visit your podiatrist for both an explanation and relief.  After a thorough evaluation and asking you some questions your doctor will come up with some answers and will be able to advise you on how to treat the itchy condition—and prevent it from coming back.

What are some possible reasons your feet are driving you crazy right now?

  • Athlete’s Foot: You don’t have to be an athlete to suffer from athlete’s foot—so-called because people who go barefoot in places like locker rooms are at a higher risk for the pesky fungal infection. Your doctor will examine your foot and most especially look between your toes for the telltale red, scaly rash and–depending on the severity of the infection—may suggest an over-the-counter ointment or spray, a prescription treatment, or antifungal pills.  Going forward be sure to wear flip-flops or other waterproof shoes in shared locker rooms.
  • Allergies: When something touches your skin that your system perceives as a threat your body will rush immune cells to the site, often causing inflammation and, yes, itching. This is called “Contact Dermatitis.” The reaction can be caused by anything from wool socks to an material from your shoe gear–your doctor will help you identify and eliminate the cause of the rash and may prescribe medications and lotions to soothe the itch.
  • Psoriasis: A chronically overactive immune system can put you at risk for psoriasis anywhere on your body, including your feet.  Patches of itchy psoriasis are generally red and often overlaid with silvery, scaly flakes of dead skin, and over time can develop deep fissures.
  • Eczema: If your itch is intense, rashy and blistered, and is concentrated on the tips and sides of your toes, you may have eczema.  You are at risk for eczema if your feet stay too wet (hello, sweaty gym socks) or too dry, but topical skin creams can help you get your feet’s moisture and pH balance back in line.  If the itching persists your doctor might also suggest topical corticosteroids to settle things down.
  • Wet and Dry Foot Syndrome: Finally, it’s not just grownups whose feet get itchy.  Young children and preteens are susceptible to juvenile plantar dermatosis or “wet and dry foot syndrome”, a cracking and itching on the bottom of the feet that generally occurs when children’s feet get into a rapid cycle of wet to dry and back to wet.  Luckily the condition can be soothed with ointments and prevented with clean socks and breathable footwear.

For any questions about the health of your feet schedule an appointment with a podiatrist atone of Triad Foot & Ankle Center’s locations in Greensboro, Burlington, and Asheboro; call 336-375-6990 or click here to request an appointment 

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