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Pruritus is the medical term for itchiness caused by an irritating sensation on the skin that makes one want to scratch. This can occur anywhere on your skin. The feet are especially vulnerable because people tend to put them in sweaty situations with various types of footwear. Many situations can lead to itchy feet, including exposure to:
Although itchy feet are not usually a cause for concern, they can indicate an underlying skin condition or even a deeper internal disease. Understanding what symptoms you should and should not be worried about can help you find relief from worry.
Itchy feet may stem from a number of causes, including:
Foot itch caused by a medical condition may be related to an increase in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. For this reason, doctors might prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication to treat itchiness. Medical conditions that cause itchy feet include:
Skin conditions that cause the feet to itch include:
An irritant can be any substance that causes a reaction in or on your body. They can even be medications or topical ointments that you use to treat other conditions. Medications known to cause body and feet itchiness include opioids or narcotics, such as morphine sulfate, ACE-inhibitors, and statins.
Itchy feet will make you want to scratch your skin. Changes to the skin may accompany the itchy sensation. Examples of skin changes are:
It’s also possible for your feet to itch with no accompanying physical skin surface changes.
See your doctor if your itchy feet don’t improve with home care or if your symptoms get worse with time.
Your doctor will take a thorough medical history and conduct a physical exam to diagnose itchy feet causes. The questions they ask you might include:
If necessary, your doctor can perform tests including:
Some tests can check areas in or on top of your skin for the presence of germs, such as a fungus.
A doctor will treat itchy feet according to the cause. For allergic reactions, avoiding the product or products causing the allergic reaction can help to reduce itchiness.
Treatments that may relieve itchy feet include the following:
Good foot care habits can help reduce itchy feet and prevent some causes, such as a fungal infection. This includes always wearing waterproof shoes, such as flip-flops, in shared shower facilities or gym floors. You can also use these foot care measures:
If you experience regular episodes of athlete’s foot, you may need to apply an antifungal powder to your feet before you put on your socks or shoes.
Written by: Rachel Nall, RN, BSN
Medically reviewed on: Oct 28, 2016: Stacy R. Sampson, DO
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