Foot Health

Itchy Feet

Itchy Feet

Got a foot itch you can’t help but scratch? If your feet itch, you're most likely suffering from either athlete's foot or dry skin. Both conditions produce red, flaky patches as well as peeling, cracked skin, but treatment options differ. If you’ve got itchy feet, it’s important for you to know the difference between athlete’s foot and dry skin so you can find the best relief.

Athlete's Foot


The most common cause of athlete's foot is perspiration, meaning everyone – not just athletes – is susceptible. Wet feet trapped in closed-in shoes, socks, and hosiery provide the perfect environment for the athlete's foot fungus, which thrives in warm, dark, moist climates.


If you're displaying any of the above-mentioned symptoms, yet also show signs of blistering, you most likely have as athlete's foot. Although most commonly found between the fourth and fifth toes, athlete's foot can appear anywhere on the foot, and is contagious.

Athlete's foot can result in red, burning, scaly, itchy feet. It usually appears as a scaling rash and can make your feet feel like they're "on fire."

Treatment And Prevention

The best way to prevent against athlete's foot is to keep your feet dry. If you do get athlete's foot, however, careful hygiene and the regular use of anti-fungal creams and powders should alleviate symptoms.

Practice the following to prevent athlete's foot:

  • Wash feet with an anti-bacterial soap.
  • Dry feet well after showering or bathing.
  • Apply anti-fungal powders and creams to absorb
    excess moisture.
  • Change your socks often, especially after exercising
    or perspiring.
  • Wear rubber sandals when using public showers or pools,
    or when you go to the gym.

Dry Skin


While dry skin is not a dangerous condition, it can become painful. If your feet crack and start to bleed, infection can follow. This is an especially serious problem for anyone with a chronic disease such as diabetes or a lowered immune system due to age or illness.

Dry skin can result from a variety of reasons:

  • Age
  • Improperly fitting shoes
  • Athlete's foot
  • Psoriasis
  • Thyroid disease
  • Diabetes
  • Certain skin conditions
  • Household heat that reduces humidity and dries out the skin


Dry skin, usually the culprit behind cracked heels, commonly appears on such areas of the feet as the soles and heels. You most likely have dry skin if your feet display the following symptoms:

  • Red or flaky patches
  • Peeling and cracked skin
  • Itchy skin

Relief and Prevention

The best way to treat and also prevent dry, cracked skin on your feet is to use good therapeutic ointments and creams. Avoid using lotions, as these often contain alcohol, which actually dries the skin out more.

Additional therapies include the following:

  • Use a pumice stone or sand stone to file the hard dry skin, allowing the moisturizers to better penetrate the skin.
  • Use creams especially designed for nighttime use,
    and wear socks to help the cream better absorb into your
    skin while you sleep.
  • Check your shoes for tight spots and areas that rub.
    Use insoles and other corrective devices to eliminate
    points of friction.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Avoid excessive exposure to hot water (such as long showers).

Make sure you avoid getting cream and ointment between your toes, as the additional moisture can lead to bacterial infections such as athlete's foot. If the dry skin and cracking worsen, or bleeding occurs, consult a physician.

Related Conditions

This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your health care provider on all matters relating to this or any other condition that may affect your health.

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