If you find yourself constantly asking, “why are my feet itchy?!”— you’re in the right place. Keep reading to find out what causes itchy feet and how to stop itchy feet in their tracks.

The medical term for itchy feet (or anywhere on your body) is pruritus. Though this can happen on any body part, the feet are especially vulnerable to itchiness because of all of the sweat they come in contact with inside shoes.

What Causes Itchy Feet?

There are many causes of itchy feet, including:

  • Sweat and other moisture
  • Dry environments that cause dry skin
  • Irritants the feet come into contact with when barefoot
  • Infectious bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites

Other causes include:

Disease 

Foot itchiness can be caused by medical conditions related to the increased production of serotonin. This is why some doctors prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication to treat itchiness.

Medical conditions that lead to itchy feet include:

  • Liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Kidney disease
  • cholestasis–decreased forward flow of bile through the biliary tree
  • peripheral neuropathy— a condition commonly associated with diabetes
  • Thyroid gland disease

Skin Conditions

 

Skin conditions that cause itchy feet include:

  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Bug bites
  • Scars
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Eczema
  • Dry skin
  • Pest infestations including lice or scabies
  • Dry skin

Symptoms of Itchy Feet

In addition to making you want to scratch your skin, symptoms of itchy feet include:

  • Blisters
  • Rash
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Cracked areas

Dry, scale-like plaques on the feet

How To Stop Itchy Feet

There are a number of treatments for itchy feet, including:

  • H-1 blocker antihistamines like Benadryl
  • Anti-fungal sprays or creams (for itchy feet caused by athlete’s foot)
  • Topical anti-itch medication
  • Prescription medications including SSRIs, gabapentin, or tricyclic antidepressants.

How To Prevent Itchy Feet

 

Proper foot care is key to preventing itchy feet. This includes wearing waterproof shoes when walking on shared floors. You should also:

  • Wait until your feet are completely dry to put on shoes and socks.
  • Regularly wash your feet with mild soap. Pay special attention to the areas between the toes and apply moisturizer when you finish bathing.
  • Wear cotton or wool socks
  • Wear well-ventilated shoes
  • Try an oatmeal soak. Oatmeal baths are known for their soothing relief. Add two cups of ground oats and one cup of baking soda to bathwater. Soak your feet for 10 minutes for a natural itch relief remedy.

Itchy Feet At Night

Do your feet itchy only at night? That still could be caused by one of the above-mentioned factors. But, if you have ruled all of the above out, your feet may still itchy only at night. Researchers and medical professionals have not been able to pinpoint an exact reason why and hypothesize that it could be caused by a changing circadian rhythm, being on our feet all day to evolution. No matter the reason, take the following steps to relieve nighttime itchy feet:

  • Use a moisturizer before bed. The drier your feet are, the heavier duty the cream should be.
  • Consider a product that contains menthol. The cooling sensation that menthol provides may help dim the feelings of itchiness by confusing the nerves transmitting the itch signal.
  • Soak your feet in cool water, or place a cool clutch against the itchy spots on your feet. The cool water can soothe irritated skin. Do this as needed, and don’t forget to moisturize after.
  • Manage your stress if you notice your itchiness ramps up when things get stressful.

With a few more steps to your daily routine, you should be able to heal and prevent itchy feet from developing in the future so that you can continue putting your best foot forward in life.

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