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Common Causes And Help For Itchy Feet
If you experience foot skin irritation or itching it can be caused by a host of things, but an allergy to certain materials in your shoes could be the culprit.
When the weather turns cool and the bulky shoes come out, so can shoe allergies — also known as shoe contact dermatitis. Sometimes it manifests in the form of flaking, uncomfortable rash.
Pruritus is the medical term for itchiness caused by an irritating sensation on your skin that makes you want to scratch. This can occur anywhere on your skin.
Your feet are especially vulnerable because they tend to be placed in sweaty situations with various types of footwear. Many situations can lead to itchy feet, including exposure to:
- dry environments that lead to dry skin
- irritants, when walking barefoot
- infectious bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi
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.
What causes itchy feet?
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, your doctor might prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication to treat itchiness.
Medical conditions that cause itchy feet include:
- liver disease
- cholestasis, which is decreased forward flow of bile through the biliary tree
- peripheral neuropathy, a condition commonly associated with diabetes mellitus
- polycythemia rubra vera
- kidney disease
- thyroid gland disease
- pruritus gravidarum during pregnancy (it may or may not have accompanying cholestasis)
Skin conditions that cause the feet to itch include:
- allergic contact dermatitis, which can be caused by something like-new laundry detergent
- athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis (fungal infection)
- atopic dermatitis
- juvenile plantar dermatosis
- bug bites
- dry skin
- pest infestations, such as lice or scabies
Exposure to irritants
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.
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Shoe contact dermatitis, is a skin inflammation that can be brought about by the chemicals and materials in certain shoes (rubber, glues, and leather tanning chemicals –most often), could be affecting around 7 million people in the U.S., according to Tracey C. Vlahovic, an associate professor and practicing doctor at Temple University’s School of Podiatric Medicine.
“Limiting perspiration is key,” says Vlahovic , who spoke to Footwear News, adding that the burning rash most often appears when sweaty feet rub against the allergy-causing components of the shoe. More instances of the condition can happen during colder seasons because many affected people tend to wear closed-toe and heavy shoes for longer periods of time.
While such skin problems usually occur to people who are already allergic to certain materials that are commonly used to make shoes, many could be entirely unaware of any allergy until the rash appears.
How can you treat foot allergies?
Once the skin irritation occurs, depending on the seriousness, it can be treated by prescription medications (such as Elidel cream) or over-the-counter creams and ointments (such as Aveeno Intense Relief). It can also go away after the allergy-causing material is removed. In extreme cases, patients may need antibiotics or steroid injections to treat the allergy if it spreads to large parts of the body, Vlahovic explained.
How can you avoid shoe contact dermatitis?
“Avoidance of the allergen can be difficult,” said Vlahovic. Still, she suggests everyone minimize sweating in their feet as much as possible — whether it be by wearing two pairs of socks or, for those who have to wear humid work boots on the job regularly, getting anti-perspiration Botox injections or customized shoes.
Additionally, most countries now have a system called Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). This system catalogues information on chemicals, chemical compounds, and chemical mixtures. However sensible and practical this advice is, it is often complicated because many of the products go under different names and there is a general lack of product information at the point of purchase. This is more difficult with footwear as the relevant information is rarely displayed. Therefore, as usual, we advise to always see your doctor before you take any medications so you can obtain a proper diagnosis and treatment
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