Itchy feet: Possible causes (what to do?)

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Do you have this unpleasant feeling of having itchy feet ? And that these itching disrupts your nights ? Generally they are benign and pass within a few days.

However, itchy feet can have a serious origin which requires a special care. This is particularly the case of athlete's foot, hand-foot syndrome or even plantar psoriasis.

In this article, you will discover the different causes itchy feet. You will also find situations that should alert you et what you can do to stop itchy feet.

The 5 essential points

  1. Itchy feet often occur due to dry skin.
  2. Certain conditions can also be responsible for itchy feet.
  3. Itchy feet during pregnancy are not necessarily harmless.
  4. Over-the-counter medications may be helpful for itchy feet.
  5. There are a few tips for overcoming itchy feet.
images 1 Itchy feet

Itchy feet: where does it come from?

There are many causes of itchy feet. Most of the time, they result from a lack of hydration. Sometimes they come from infection, dermatological disease, general disorders or hormonal fluctuations.

Skin dryness

When the outer layer of skin, whose role is to maintain hydration and defend it against external aggressions, deteriorates : dry skin sets in. The skin becomes less supple and duller. It becomes sensitized and itches.

The intensity of the itching is proportional to the dryness of the skin. The drier the skin on the feet, the more intensely the feet itch. In short, it’s a call for hydration.

How to recognize dry skin on the feet?

The foot is dry; It even happens that it peels.

Scratching lesions are common.

Horns can accumulate in the heel, under the ball of the foot or on the toes.

Athlete's foot

Athlete's foot, also called “tinea pedis” is a mycosis of the feet. It is an infection caused by a Trichophyton or Epidermophyton type fungus.

You can catch it walking barefoot on public grounds such as the surface surrounding swimming pools or gym mats. Moreover, this is why it is called “athlete’s foot”.

How to recognize athlete's foot?

Athlete's foot usually affects the soles of the feet. However, itching can occur between the toes. Likewise, oozing lesions may appear. The toe is red and slightly swollen.

download Itchy feet
Athlete's foot, one of the causes of itchy feet.


Hand-foot syndrome

This is a inflammatory dermatosis due to certain anticancer treatments. Indeed, some chemotherapy treatments weaken the microvessels of the hands and feet. Note that hand-foot syndrome not related to with the hand, foot and mouth syndrome, a viral disease that often affects children, but can also cause itchy feet.

How to recognize hand-foot syndrome?

There is redness on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

The itching is often accompanied by tingling.  

Plantar psoriasis

Psoriasis is a autoimmune disease (caused by the own immune system) which can touch any part of the skin (especially the soles of the feet) during which there is a acceleration of cellular regeneration. However, psoriasis of the feet is relatively rare and is generally associated with psoriasis of the hand: we then speak of “palmo-plantar psoriasis”.

How to recognize plantar psoriasis?

Symptoms vary depending on the type of psoriasis. There can be :

  • itchy red patches on the bottom of the feet;
  • thick, silvery flaking;
  • pustules (pus-filled bumps) on the soles of the feet;
  • thick, yellow, or brittle nails (nail psoriasis)

This can be accompanied by back pain or intense joint pain (psoriatic arthritis).


Eczema, also called "atopic dermatitis"Is a inflammation of itchy skin. It can occur at any age although children are the most frequently affected. In adulthood, eczema appears preferentially on the feet and hands.

About that, an eczematous lesion of the foot has been the subject of a publication in the Revue Francophone des Laboratoires April 2022. The study was carried out by a team from the University of Rennes 1 led by Emeritus Professor of parasitology and applied zoology Claude Guiguen and Doctors Hélène Guegan and Sylviane Chevrier.

How to recognize foot eczema?

Foot eczema presents itself as:

  • a red, itchy, scaly rash on the soles or tops of the feet;
  • small fluid-filled blisters on the toes or side of the foot.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a inflammatory reaction of the skin to an allergen. It can be triggered by shoe material (rubber or leather) or the fabric of socks.

How to recognize contact dermatitis?

It appears :

· a red, itchy rash;

· scaly skin

· bumps and blisters

· swelling or even a skin burn.


Urticaria is a skin rash which causes intense itching. It can appear on any part of the skin, including the feet.

Several factors can trigger hives. The most common are: a food, a stress, an effort and a medicine.

How to recognize hives?

The symptoms of hives are:

· itches ;

· a more or less raised pink or red rash;

· red spots

· with or without burning and tingling.

Usually, the ssymptoms last less than 24 hours in an area before appearing elsewhere.

itchy feet at night causes feat


Neuropathy is a nerve dysfunction. It follows a release of substances – cytokines -, by the immune system. These cytokines irritate the nerves and cause itching.

How to recognize neuropathy?

During neuropathy, there may be:

  • itching with numbness or tingling of the soles of the feet;
  • sharp, shooting, or burning pain;
  • sensitivity to touch
  • a lack of coordination and a fall.


Mediafixer hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy can dry the skin and make the feet swell causing them to itch. Sometimes itchy feet can be the sign of liver disease called “Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy”. It is a condition in which bile flows into the bloodstream, triggering itching.

If you experience itchy feet during pregnancy, consult your doctor. It might be brought to you order a blood test to evaluate the rate of your liver enzymes.

Other causes

Insect bites

Most often, it is mosquitoes, bedbugs and horseflies.


Scabies is a contagious illness skin characterized by intense itching especially at night. It is caused by tiny mites called “sarcoptes”. Symptoms (itching and small bumps) appear when the sarcoptes burrow into the skin.

Maladie renale

When the kidneys are not functioning normally, certain substances that the kidneys should have evacuated accumulate in blood including urea causing itching called “uremic pruritus”. The latter often affects the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands. The itching is more intense at night.

Liver disease

Just like thes kidneys, when the liver is not functioning properly, substances build up in the blood. This time, it is bilirubin which is normally eliminated by the liver which is to blame. A high level of bilirubin in the blood causes yellowing of the skin and itching.


Diabetes is a chronic disease which appears when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (blood sugar regulating hormone) or when the body no longer reacts correctly to the insulin it produces. It is characterized by a increased blood sugar level.

Itchy feet of a diabetic can be explained by :

  • neuropathy caused by diabetes (diabetic neuropathy);
  • poor circulation due to diabetes.
images 2 Itchy feet

Itchy feet: when to consult?

See your doctor if:

  • the itching of your feet lasts more than 2 weeks ;
  • you are pregnant ;
  • the itching is very intense and you prevent you from sleeping at night ;
  • a rash on your feet persists for more than a week ;
  • signs of kidney or liver problems appear as swelling of the legs, yellowing of the skin or eyes, or decreased frequency of urination.

Itchy feet: how to stop them?

Identify the cause

To stop itchy feet, you need to clearly identify its origin. If necessary, over-the-counter products may be useful to you such as:

  • topical steroids to treat skin rashes;
  • antihistamines to treat allergies;
  • antifungal creams to treat athlete's foot.

This being, tips exist to overcome your itchy feet. These are :

  • wash your feet with a non-alkaline soap;
  • dry your feet without rubbing after a shower;
  • do not put on shoes until your feet are dry;
  • moisturize your feet with a fragrance-free moisturizer;
  • wear shoes made of natural material, they let your feet breathe and rarely cause allergies.
  • avoid heat sources, they dry out the skin.


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Each article is written by a qualified healthcare professional following strict editorial procedures (More information). This article is regularly revised in the light of the most recent scientific evidence. 

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