We’ve all had the itch we can’t scratch, but did you know there’s a name for it? Pruritus is the medical term for itchiness caused by an irritating sensation on your skin that causes you to scratch. Pruritus can occur anywhere on your skin. However, your feet are particularly vulnerable. Many different situations can lead to itchy feet. These include exposure to:
- Dry environments that cause dry skin
- Irritants (walking barefoot and wearing shoes with no socks)
- Infectious bacteria, parasites, viruses, or fungi
While there are certain things you can be exposed to that cause itchy feet, certain medical conditions, like diabetes, can also cause an uncomfortable, itchy sensation. So, keep reading for the five major causes of itchy feet.
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection and one of the most common culprits of itchy feet. The British Medical Journal suggests that up to 30% of the population could be suffering from it at any given time. Symptoms of this nasty infection include itchiness between your toes and inflamed, scaley skin.
This fungal infection can be complicated to treat because it thrives in dark, moist places, like your shoes. If you believe you have athlete’s foot, get treatment because the infection will only worsen and spread without it.
Your feet lack natural oils, which puts them at risk of excessive dryness. Once your skin is itching from dryness, it could signify that you need some TLC. Ensure you don’t scratch that itch, as scratching will likely damage your skin further, making it easier for dangerous bacteria to infect your body.
Dry skin can also result in peeling, cracking, and sores. Ensure you keep any cracking clean and treat your feet with a cream containing urea, as urea is an excellent form of hydration.
In individuals with diabetes, their bodies struggle to control the amount of glucose in their bloodstream. Unfortunately, high blood sugar levels impair the function of the small blood vessels that supply your nerves with the vital nutrients that they need. This lack of blood flow damages the nerves and is called diabetic neuropathy.
Often, your feet will be affected the worst. They may itch due to the damaged nerve fibers in your skin’s outer layer. You may also experience mild tingling or severe burning and shooting pains.
Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is characterized by dehydrated and itchy skin. It can appear on many body parts, including your feet. It’s not clear what exactly triggers eczema. However, a combination of environmental and genetic factors appears to be involved.
Dyshidrotic eczema will show itself on the sides and soles of the feet. It causes small, deep, and itchy blisters. Research shows that women are twice as likely to develop this type of eczema.
If your eczema is severe, your doctor may prescribe creams or recommend over-the-counter ointments or lotions that should help.
Psoriasis causes red, sore, and scaly skin. Like eczema, it can affect almost any part of the body, including your feet. It can be extremely itchy and painful and occurs when an individual’s immune system attacks healthy skin cells. These attacks speed up the production of skin cells, which produces a scaly rash.
Treatments typically include creams and lotions that contain tar, corticosteroids, salicylic acid, or a combination of the three.
When To See a Doctor for Itchy Feet
If your itchy feet do not improve with home care or your symptoms worsen, you should seek medical assistance. The doctor will likely ask several questions like:
- Are you taking any new medications?
- Have you been exposed to any irritants?
- Do you suffer from any chronic health conditions?
- Do you have any family, friends, or teammates that have recently experienced any skin-related issues?
Possible tests include skin scraping, culture, biopsy, and blood tests.
The Foot & Ankle Center
If you have itchy feet and nothing has helped, think about making an appointment with The Foot & Ankle Center. Our doctors can treat various ailments, including itchy feet and everything that can cause them. While itchy feet may seem like a trivial issue, they can signify something more ominous. It’s best to treat an issue early than to let it worsen. Request an appointment today! You’ll be glad you did.