Itchy Feet: 12 Common Causes

Itchy feet can be both annoying and a sign of serious health issues.

Person scratching foot

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When your feet are irritated to the point that you feel like scratching them, you're dealing with itchy feet.

Usually, when your feet feel that way, it's often nothing more than annoying. However, if you notice other symptoms like blisters, dry or scaly areas on the skin, or swelling, there may be more going on.

Several causes of itchy skin can affect your feet and link to serious health conditions like scabies, diabetes, or thyroid problems. Read on to learn more.

Causes of Itchy Feet

Here are 12 causes to look out for, plus how to stop your feet from being tender and uncomfortable.

Athlete's Foot

Athlete's foot is a fungal infection and a classic cause of itchiness. It's common to pick up the fungus by walking barefoot in places like gym locker rooms. Also, you might end up with a red rash, or the athlete's foot can lead to itchy blisters and cracked or scaly skin.


Eczema, or dermatitis, is an inflammatory skin condition that causes dry, itchy skin and rashes. It can affect the face, hands, and feet, inside the elbows, and behind the knees.

The skin condition is not contagious, but it is a long-lasting condition that may get better or worse over time.


Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition that causes patches of red and silver thick and scaley patches of skin. In addition to the soles of your feet, those patches may appear on the following body areas:

  • Knees
  • Elbows
  • Scalp
  • Lower back
  • Face

Bug Bites

Depending on the season, you might experience itchy feet from pesky mosquitoes and other insects. In the case of mosquitos, bites trigger an inflammatory reaction in the body, including a release of the chemical histamine.

Histamine causes the area to become itchy. However, bug bites can also bring swelling, redness, and irritation.

Dry Skin

It's likely for people to have dry skin if they have a history of itchy skin conditions. Certain medical conditions, like diabetes and kidney or liver disease, can also cause dry feet that itch. Dry skin on your feet can also be something you inherit from your parents, though infrequent.


Scabies is a skin condition caused by microscopic mites that burrow into the top layer of skin. Adults with scabies can experience itching and rash over limited areas to most of the body. In young children, scabies primarily affects the following body areas:

  • Head
  • Face
  • Neck
  • Palms of the hands
  • Soles of the feet

Some people with scabies develop a rash, sores, or thick, crusty areas. The itching is usually very intense and often worse at night.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

An itchy rash on your feet could be allergic contact dermatitis, an allergic reaction to something your feet have come in contact with. This condition may be the result of various allergens, including ones like:

  • Fabric or clothing material or dyes
  • Fragrances from soaps or moisturizers
  • Rubber or latex shoes

Kidney Disease

Certain medical conditions, like kidney disease, can lead to itchy hands and feet. The itchiness is usually a symptom of kidney disease in later stages. A person may experience itchy skin all the time or a majority of the time.

Thyroid Problems

Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid gland. One of the symptoms of hypothyroidism is dry skin, which can lead to itchiness. A person with a thyroid disease could also have itchy skin with no rash or experience itchy hives that don't respond well to treatment.

Pruritus Gravidarum

If you're pregnant and can't stop scratching your itchy feet, you could have pruritus gravidarum. A blockage of bile from the liver, called cholestasis, causes the symptom.

Pruritus gravidarum is severe itchiness during pregnancy. It mainly affects the abdomen, hands, and feet, leading to itchy palms and soles. Pruritus gravidarum is relatively uncommon, occurring in less than 1% of pregnancies globally.


People with diabetes can experience dry and itchy skin—including on the feet. High blood sugar can also lead to circulation problems, which increases the risk of open sores and infections on the feet and legs.


While rare, a person's foot itchiness could be a sign of cancer like melanoma. Also, medications that are part of cancer treatment (e.g., pain medications) or cancer treatments, like chemotherapy, may be causes for itching.

Treatment Options

Seeing a dermatologist can help determine how to treat itchy feet. Treatments will vary based on the cause. The following are some examples of conditions and their potential treatment options:

  • Athlete's foot: Over-the-counter antifungal creams and sprays can usually clear up an outbreak and keep the infection at bay.
  • Bug bites: An oral antihistamine, like Benadryl, or OTC anti-itch creams can help relieve bug bites. You can also use ice or a cold compress to help quiet some of that inflammation.
  • Diabetes: You can treat dry, itchy skin with moisturizers and lotions. In general, you should consult diabetes treatment with your healthcare provider.
  • Eczema: Treatments include medications, skin creams, light therapy, and good skincare. Avoid soaps, fabrics, lotions, or other triggers that irritate your skin.
  • Kidney disease: Medications, moisturizers, or light therapy can often help alleviate the itching symptoms.
  • Pruritus gravida rum: If you experience the symptom, you may discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider, including oral prescription medications. Antihistamine ointments or creams could also help soothe the itchiness.
  • Psoriasis: Treatments may include creams and ointments, ultraviolet (UV) light therapy, and medications.


Whether it's your feet or other parts of your body, there are a few ways to prevent your skin from itching, such as:

  • Avoiding extreme temperature changes when possible
  • Bathing or showering with lukewarm water
  • Opting for fragrance-free lotions, soaps, and detergents
  • Reducing stress
  • Using prescribed skin treatments before moisturizing your skin
  • Wearing loose clothes made of cotton

If your feet itch for other reasons—say, because of one of the health conditions above—consult with a healthcare provider. They can offer guidance on any additional preventative measures available for your conditions.

A Quick Review

There are many potential causes for itchy feet. Some are mild and easily treated with OTC medicines. In contrast, others are more complicated and need the help of a healthcare provider. If you try treating your feet, and symptoms don't go away, it may help to talk with your healthcare provider.

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