Teach Me

Why Are My Feet Itchy? Common Causes and Treatment

Scratching an itch on the skin is a normal and natural response. It’s your body’s way of telling you something is bothering you. 

The medical term for itchiness is pruritus. Though pruritis can happen anywhere on your body, your feet can be especially vulnerable to itchiness.

Itchy skin is usually no big deal, but sometimes it can be a symptom of a more serious issue. Read on to learn more about possible causes for itchy feet and some remedies that may help.

Nine possible causes for your itchy feet

Dry skin

Dry skin is very common. Long, hot showers, harsh soaps, certain skin conditions and improper shoes can lead to dry skin. Dry skin on your feet can start to crack. This can trigger itchiness, as the nerve endings in the skin respond to the irritation.

Skin conditions

“Skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis can show up as red, scaly and inflamed patches that are often itchy,” said Austin Matthews, DPM, a podiatrist with Banner Health. 


Both athletes’ foot and cellulitis can cause itchy feet. 

“If feet stay wet, it can lead to fungal infections like athlete’s foot,” Dr. Matthews said. “The fungi that cause this infection thrive in warm, moist environments, like sweaty shoes, public swimming pools and locker room floors.” When they infect the skin of your feet, this can cause a red, itchy rash on your feet.

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection often caused by Streptococcus or Staphylococcus bacteria.  When these bacteria enter through cracks or breaks in the skin, they can cause redness, swelling and itching.


Some pregnant people can develop pruritis gravidarum (itch on their feet, hands and bellies). Some pregnant people may also experience an itchy, bothersome rash known as pruritic papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPP or PUPPP).

Allergic dermatitis

“Exposure to irritants such as poison ivy, soaps, laundry detergents or harsh chemicals can lead you to develop contact dermatitis, a rash of itchy bumps where the skin came into contact with an allergen,” Dr. Matthews said.

Nerve troubles

Peripheral neuropathy, a condition often caused by diabetes and other nerve disorders, may increase the feeling of itchy feet or hands at night. 

“Diabetes can lead to neuropathy and may alter moisture levels in the skin, which can lead to dry skin and itching,” Matthews said.

Reaction to cold temperatures

Chilblains are small itchy, red patches or lumps that can appear on your toes and finger. They can occur when your skin is exposed to cold and damp conditions. 


Some pain relief medications (like opioids or narcotics) and high blood pressure and cholesterol drugs (like ACE inhibitors and statins) can cause body and feet itchiness.

Kidney and liver disease

Liver disease and kidney disease can contribute to itchy feet. These conditions are known to cause dry, scaly skin or cracked skin on your feet.  They can also cause itchy hands and palms.

Best treatments for itchy feet

Scratching is a natural reaction. While it may provide temporary relief, it is not a long-term solution. Scratching too much can actually worsen certain conditions and lead to other problems or infections.

If you want to ease your irritated skin, here are some home remedies that may help:

  • Keep your feet dry: “People whose feet sweat a lot are more prone to getting fungal infections like athlete’s foot or irritated skin,” Dr. Matthews said. Dry your feet well – including in between your toes – after getting them wet. Change socks and shoes as often as needed to lower your risk of developing athlete’s foot. Wear socks made from natural, breathable fabrics like cotton.
  • Clean your feet every day: Wash your feet with mild soap and water to remove grime, sweat and other possible irritants. 
  • Moisturize: If your feet are dry, apply alcohol-free lotion or moisturizer to keep skin hydrated and minimize itching. However, Dr. Matthews cautions against using moisturizers between your toes. “Applying lotion between your toes keeps them too moist, which can lead to skin breakdown and an opening for fungal and bacterial infection,” he said.
  • Soak your feet: Placing your feet in cool water with baking soda or oatmeal can help soothe the itch.

See your health care provider if you experience any of the following:

  • Your itching continues after at-home treatments and appears red or irritated. This may mean there is an infection or exposure that needs medical treatment. 
  • Your skin looks normal but continues to itch after at-home treatment. This may mean the issue isn’t your skin but could be related to something else like neuropathy.

“Itching is not very specific and can be caused by many different things,” Dr. Matthews said. “It can sometimes lead to serious problems, so if there isn’t a clear cause it is worth getting your feet looked at by a specialist.”

Call 911 immediately if you experience an itch along with difficulty breathing or swelling of your lips, tongue, mouth or face. This could be a sign of a dangerous allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 


It’s natural to have the urge to scratch and itch from time to time. If you’re worried about your itchy feet and at-home remedies aren’t helping, contact your health care provider or a Banner Health specialist to help get the best results for your feet.

For more foot care articles, check out:

Dermatology Wellness