What causes foot itch?

Foot itch may have many possible causes, including allergens (agents that cause allergies), infections, autoimmune disorders, or other causes such as stress.

Allergic causes of foot itch

Foot itch may be caused by contact dermatitis. Common triggers include:

  • Cosmetics, dyes or detergents
  • Industrial chemicals, such as those found in elastic, latex and rubber
  • Metallic substances (various metals, copper, wire)
  • Poison ivy or oak

Other allergic causes of foot itch include:

  • Eczema (skin disorder causing scaly or blistering rashes that may be caused by allergy)
  • Food allergies (allergic reactions to certain foods)
  • Insect bite allergy such as a bee sting

Infectious causes of foot itch

Foot itch can also be caused by infections including:

  • Candidiasis (yeast infection)
  • Chickenpox
  • Eczema (skin disorder causing scaly or blistering rashes that may be caused by infection)
  • Pinworm
  • Strep throat (bacterial throat infection)
  • Tinea pedis (athlete’s foot)

Other causes of foot itch

Foot itch can be caused by other factors such as:

  • Extreme cold or heat
  • Medications
  • Neurodermatitis (extreme itching)
  • Pregnancy
  • Psoriasis
  • Stress

Serious or life-threatening causes of foot itch

In some cases, foot itch may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be evaluated immediately in an emergency setting. These include:

  • Anaphylaxis (a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction)
  • Chronic renal failure (also called chronic kidney disease)
  • Obstructive biliary disease (obstruction of the bile ducts)

Questions for diagnosing the cause of foot itch

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your foot itch including:

  • What footwear do you wear everyday?
  • When did the itching start?
  • Are you taking any medications?
  • Do you have any known allergies?
  • Do you feel otherwise healthy?
  • Have you tried any new products recently, such as soaps, perfumes, or sprays?
  • Have you spent any time at shared facilities recently, such as locker rooms or swimming pools?
  • Does scratching make it better or worse?

What are the potential complications of foot itch?

An itch is not usually serious, but in rare cases, it can be a symptom of a serious condition that may have severe complications. You should contact your health care professional to rule out any serious conditions. Once the underlying cause of your itch is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Cellulitis (skin infection) from untreated athlete’s foot
  • Secondary infections, which may develop from scratching and related skin trauma


  1. Itching. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/itching.html. Accessed April 20, 2011.
  2. Pruritus. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/common_pruritus.html. Accessed April 20, 2011.
  3. Crawford F, Hollis S. Topical treatments for fungal infections of the skin and nails of the foot. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2007; :CD001434.

What is foot itch?

A foot itch is a tickling, irritating sensation accompanied by the persistent need to scratch your foot. Redness, swelling, soreness, flaking and scarring may occur in the area of itchiness. The medical term for itching is pruritus. Although scratching may temporarily relieve your symptoms, it can cause more irritation or lead to an infection. With most cases of itching, it is best if you can r... Read more about foot itchintroduction


What other symptoms might occur with foot itch?

Foot itch may be accompanied by other symptoms, depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Certain conditions that cause foot itch may also involve other body systems.

Related localized symptoms that may occur along with foot itch

Foot itch may be accompanied by other localized symptoms including:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Skin, Hair and Nails

Top Features in Skin, Hair and Nails

15 Ways To Get Better Medicine

People who are actively involved in their medical care stay healthier, recover quicker when they're ill, and live longer, healthier lives.