Why Do I Have Itchy Feet?

General Health and Preventive Care  /  Blog

Why Do I Have Itchy Feet?

Andy Wong

Written by Andy Wong

Andy Wong

Andy Wong

Andy is the Chief Marketing Officer at PlushCare. He's passionate about advancing healthcare solutions and improving access to care via health technology.

January 21, 2021 / Read Time 4 minutes

My Feet Are So Itchy!

Itchy feet can be extremely  uncomfortable, especially if the itchiness is chronic or accompanied by other symptoms. What does it mean when your feet itch? Several conditions may cause itchy feet. Many of these are simple to treat, but a few might indicate more serious problems. Here are just a few of the conditions that might be causing itchy feet:

  1. 1

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    See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

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Athletes Foot

Athletes' foot is the most common cause of itchy feet. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, "Athlete's foot is very common. It is estimated that 3 to 15% of the population are affected." But what is athlete's foot?

Athlete's foot (tinea pedis) is a fungal infection that usually begins between the toes. The nickname "athlete's foot" is because the infection commonly occurs in people whose feet have become very sweaty while confined within tightfitting shoes.

Symptoms of athlete's foot include:

  • Redness of the skin on the feet

  • Flakiness, peeling, or cracking of the skin on the feet

  • Itchy, stinging, or burning sensation on the feet

Treating athlete's foot is usually routine.

Click here to make an appointment with one of our trusted doctors who can examine your feet, diagnose your symptoms, and set up a treatment plan for you. Athlete's foot is typically treated with antifungal creams, gels, or sprays.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is the medical term for developing a skin rash. The rash may be an allergic reaction or irritation of the skin in response to a triggering substance. According to the National Eczema Association "Irritant contact dermatitis, which accounts for 80% of all contact dermatitis, doesn't involve an allergic reaction by the immune system."

Irritant contact dermatitis may be caused by:

  • Solvents

  • Detergents

  • Soaps

  • Bleach

  • Nickel-containing jewelry

  • Makeup

  • Hair dye

  • Nickel-containing scissors

  • Belt buckles

  • Clothes with metal snaps

  • Zippers

  • Over-washing hands with hot water and soap

  • Wearing scratchy wool.

Allergic contact dermatitis is a delayed allergic reaction that appears as a rash a day or two after skin is exposed to an allergen. This is different from a reaction to an irritant because the rash is triggered by an immune system response.

A doctor may prescribe a topical steroid cream to treat contact dermatitis. Topical steroids may relieve itching and symptoms, but if the rash is widespread, dermatologists may prescribe a course of oral or injectable corticosteroids.

Read: Get Rash Treatment Online


Scabies is an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite (Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis). Scabies can spread rapidly in crowded conditions where close body contact is frequent. Nursing homes, extended-care facilities, and prisons are often sites of scabies outbreaks.

Intense itching occurs in the area where the scabies mite burrows. The urge to scratch may be especially strong at night. Symptoms may take 4-8 weeks to develop after an infection, however, you can still spread scabies during this time.

Treatment of scabies involves scabicide lotion or cream that is applied to all areas of the body from the neck down to the feet and toes. There is no over-the-counter medication available to treat scabies. Book an appointment with a PlushCare doctor who can write a prescription and have the medication you need sent to the pharmacy of your choice.

Venous Stasis Dermatitis

If you have varicose veins, circulation issues or suffer from heart disease, you may experience a build up of fluid causing swelling in your legs and feet. 

Symptoms of venous stasis dermatitis include:

  • Ankle swelling

  • Orange-brown speckles of discoloration sometimes called "cayenne pepper spots" These spots develop when pressure and swelling cause capillaries, the smallest blood 

  • Redness in lighter skin tones that may appear brown, purple, gray or ashen in darker skin tones

  • Itching

  • Scaling

  • Dryness

  • A heavy or achy feeling after long periods of sitting or standing

Treatment for stasis dermatitis includes diagnosing and treating the root cause as well as controlling its various symptoms.

According to Dr. Jenny Murase, associate clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco, "Recognizing stasis dermatitis early may help reveal a life-threatening condition and prevent the skin condition from progressing from swelling, redness and itching to open, oozing ulcerations that are vulnerable to infection."

Read: Get Diabetes Treatment Online

Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetes may cause nerve damage in your feet. Diabetic neuropathy occurs when high blood sugar (glucose) injures nerves throughout your body.

The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy include a tingling, burning, or itchy sensation that is usually present symmetrically on both feet. It might be accompanied by the loss of ability to feel certain other sensations, which can affect your balance or make you more prone to not noticing infections.

Diabetic neuropathy cannot be cured, although treatment exists to relieve symptoms and prevent the progression of the disease. A doctor may prescribe anti-seizure drugs or antidepressants to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms. To slow the progression of the disease, it is recommended to consistently keep your blood sugar within your target range

Online doctors at PlushCare can prescribe diabetes medications, such as metformin, to help with the management of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Online doctors can write initiation prescriptions as well as prescription refills. Our board certified doctors are available 365 days a year to help you manage your diabetes in the short and long term.

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Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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