Many different conditions can cause itchy feet. These include psoriasis, eczema, and athlete’s foot. The correct treatment option will depend on the cause.

While occasional itchiness can be nothing to worry about, extremely itchy feet or an itch that does not get better over time may require treatment.

A person should try to avoid scratching, which can often make an itch worse, rather than better. Scratching also increases the likelihood of infection.

Keep reading to learn more about the causes and treatments for itchy skin.

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According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, peripheral neuropathy relates to various conditions that involve damage to the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The PNS is responsible for sending signals from the central nervous system to all parts of the body.

Nerve damage can cause sensations, such as itchiness, numbness, and pain, in several parts of the body, including the feet.

For itchy sensation in the feet caused by neuropathy, a doctor may recommend:

Dry skin can sometimes cause itching. Risk factors for dry skin include:

  • age
  • living in a dry climate
  • regular exposure to water, for example, due to the frequent handwashing required in health and service industries
  • having an itchy skin condition

If a person has dry skin on their feet, they may itch. The constant need to itch can be frustrating and affects someone’s ability to concentrate on daily tasks.

They may also notice some physical skin changes with dry skin, including:

  • cracks in skin
  • flaky or rough skin texture
  • noticeably dehydrated skin
  • raw skin that is sensitive and may burn

Applying creams, lotions, or oils can help relieve dry skin on feet and in general. Taking an oatmeal bath can also help relieve itching.

If regular moisturizers do not work, a pharmacist can recommend effective over-the-counter (OTC) products.

Psoriasis is a skin condition that results in sore, scaly red skin. It can affect almost any part of the body, including the feet. Psoriasis can be extremely itchy and painful.

Plaque psoriasis, a common type of the disease, can lead to the following symptoms:

  • patches of raised, thick skin (called plaques)
  • itchy plaques
  • a silvery white coating on the skin

A serious type of the disease, erythrodermic psoriasis, can cause an intense itch alongside other painful symptoms. People should seek immediate help for it.

Psoriasis occurs when a person’s immune system starts attacking healthy skin cells. This speeds up the production of these cells, producing a rash.

Treatments usually include creams and lotions containing tar and salicylic acid. Dermatologists recommend the following tips to relieve itch:

  • treat psoriasis
  • use warm water for baths or showers
  • try itch-relieving products, like menthol or calamine
  • applying a damp, cool washcloth to the itchy area

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is usually characterized by dry, itchy skin. It can appear in many areas of the body, including the feet. Other symptoms include:

  • crusting or oozing of skin
  • swelling
  • inflammation or discoloration of the skin

The itch can range from mild to moderate. However, sometimes, the itch is so bad that people scratch it until it bleeds. Also, people with itchy skin and eczema tend to experience:

  • poor sleep
  • liver disease
  • mental health issues, like anxiety and depression

According to the National Eczema Association, there is not one main cause of eczema. Rather, a combination of environmental and genetic factors seem to play a role. Seven types of eczema exist.

Dyshidrotic eczema is a type that often appears on the sides and soles of the feet. It causes small, deep, extremely itchy blisters. Females are more likely than males to develop this form of eczema.

People can treat itchiness that results from mild dyshidrotic eczema by soaking their feet in cold water or applying cold, damp compresses to the area.

If the eczema is more severe, a doctor can prescribe creams or recommend OTC solutions.

Learn more about eczema treatment.

Athlete’s foot is a fungal skin disease that usually develops between the toes, although it can also affect other parts of the feet.

Athlete’s foot can cause an itching and burning sensation on the infected area. Other symptoms include:

  • sore and flaky patches on feet
  • redness
  • skin that crack and bleeds

Click here for images of athlete’s foot.

Fungi thrive in warm, moist, and dark conditions, such as inside sports shoes. An overgrowth of these fungi can cause athlete’s foot.

Antifungal medication, which comes as pills or lotions, is usually very effective at treating athlete’s foot.

Skin allergies can cause red, bumpy, and itchy skin, even on the feet. It can occur for many reasons, including exposure to certain plants or a reaction to medications or food.

Other than eczema, skin allergies can lead to the following symptoms:

  • hives
  • contact dermatitis, especially at the site where there was contact with the irritant
  • swelling in skin

Taking antihistamines can help manage the symptoms of an allergic reaction. These medications come as pills or creams.

Learn more about skin rashes.

A hookworm is a type of parasite that lives in human intestines. People can get hookworms by walking barefoot in areas where the larvae are present. Hookworm infections are relatively rare in places with sufficient hygienic practices.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person may experience itchiness or a localized rash in the spot where the hookworm larvae enter their body. If a person has a heavy infection, other symptoms include:

  • abdominal pain
  • loss of appetite
  • fatigue

Itchiness and a localized rash are usually the first signs of hookworm infection.

Doctors can treat hookworm infections with drugs that target the parasites. These are known as anti-parasitic drugs, examples of which include albendazole and mebendazole.

Learn more about hookworm infections.

Scabies occurs when very small mites burrow into a person’s skin and lay eggs. It causes intense itching and a pimple-like rash on the skin. The rash can lead to:

  • tiny blisters
  • scales or sores
  • thick crusts in the skin

The itching is usually more intense in the night.

The condition is contagious and travels through skin-to-skin contact. It can occur anywhere on the body, including on the feet.

Applying a prescription medication called scabicides directly to the skin can usually treat the condition.

Diabetes is a long-term condition that affects insulin resistance and how the body changes food into energy. It can mean a person’s blood sugar levels are too high, which can have serious health consequences.

Diabetes can cause diabetic neuropathy, which can cause tingling, itchiness, and numbness, especially in the feet. Poor circulation can also play a role in causing numbness in the area. Other skin conditions that can occur with diabetes include:

All of these can lead to skin itchiness, too.

Diabetes treatment may include pills, insulin, or injections. A person will also need to manage their condition with certain lifestyle choices.

Learn more about diabetes.

Even after they have healed, severe burns on the feet can cause lasting damage and itching to the area.

According to a 2020 study, around 80 to 100% of people report experiencing itchiness after a burn. Researchers also report that itchiness tends to reduce with time. Other symptoms post-burn may include experiencing the following in the affected area:

  • prickling
  • burning sensation
  • numbness

The itchiness can be severe enough to disturb sleep and interfere with social activities.

Treatment for postburn itchiness includes:

  • antihistamines
  • topical treatments, like emollients or other moisturizers
  • gabapentin for the pain or itchy sensations
  • massage or pressure therapy

The medical term for itchiness is pruritus. The causes can be put into four categories:

  • cutaneous, which is an itch that results from a problem in or on the skin
  • systemic, which is itchiness due to a generalized issue throughout the body
  • neuropathic, which is an itch that comes from the nerves or nervous system
  • psychogenic, which means that the itching results from a psychological issue

However, an older 2016 article notes that there is rarely a singular cause of a person’s itching. Itchiness can result from a complex mix of factors.

The following are commonly asked questions about itchy feet.

Does itchy feet mean poor circulation?

Itchy feet are not a typical symptom of poor circulation. However, poor circulation can cause tingling, pain, and numbness in the feet.

Is itchy feet a symptom of diabetes?

Poor circulation as a result of diabetes can rarely cause itchy feet, although tingling and numbness are more common.

How do I get my feet to stop itching?

Treating itchy feet can depend on the underlying cause. However, a person can try applying cold compresses to the itchy area, regularly using moisturizers, and applying topicals and calamine.

What does itching feet indicate?

A person’s foot can itch for many reasons, including dry skin, peripheral neuropathy, psoriasis, eczema, athlete’s foot, allergic reactions, scabies, and diabetes.

Occasionally, itchy feet are a common occurrence. However, if a person has chronically itchy feet or if the itch comes with other symptoms, they should see a doctor for a thorough checkup.

Many OTC and home remedies can help relieve itchiness in the feet. If the itch continues or gets worse, speak to a doctor.