The skin on the feet can peel but not itch for many reasons. A person may have dry and peeling skin, athlete’s foot, blisters, or peeling due to hyperhidrosis, which causes excessive sweating.
While athlete’s foot
Many of the causes of peeling skin are not serious. A person may be able to treat the condition themselves using over-the-counter (OTC) remedies.
However, if the condition persists or worsens, it is important for people to consult a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. A doctor may prescribe topical ointments or oral medications.
This article explores some reasons why feet can peel without itching and their treatments.
Dry skin is a common condition that occurs when the skin does not have enough moisture. It can occur on the feet, resulting in rough, scaly, or flaky skin.
Some factors that may exacerbate dry skin include:
- cold weather
- hot water
- irritating soaps and detergents
Dry skin can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition or medication side effect. Some conditions that may cause dry skin include:
Treatment can depend on the cause, but if a person has dry skin with no underlying disorder, it often involves applying emollients and moisturizers and avoiding circumstances that make the skin drier.
People can consider a moisturizer that contains:
If dry skin is a symptom of another condition, doctors will also aim to treat or manage this.
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that causes peeling skin on the feet. It often causes inflammation and itchiness, but not always.
A person can get athlete’s foot from warm, moist environments. Common sources include showers, locker rooms, and shared towels, socks, or shoes. It
- between the toes
- on the soles of the feet
- on or around the toenails
People can also have cracks or fissures in the skin and, sometimes, pompholyx. These are tiny bumps on the skin.
Treatment for athlete’s foot involves:
- keeping the feet clean and dry
- changing socks often
- using an antifungal treatment
People can get OTC creams for athlete’s foot, as well as for fungal nail infections. For persistent or severe cases, a person may need prescription medication.
Blisters are welts that develop as a result of friction. On the feet, they can occur due to tight or uncomfortable shoes that rub the skin when walking. This can result in a blister, which will contain fluid.
Blisters cause soreness and pain. If they pop, it may look as though the skin on the feet is peeling. They usually resolve on their own without treatment in 1–2 weeks. To help with healing, a person can consider:
- stopping the activity that caused the blister
- covering it softly with a band-aid or bandage
- keeping the area clean
- avoiding popping or draining it, as this may cause infection
Sunburn can occur on the bottom of the feet if someone lies on their front in the sun, particularly if they forget to apply sunscreen to the soles. Symptoms of sunburn include:
- red skin in people with lighter skin tones
- peeling that occurs after
Treatment for mild sunburn includes avoiding the sun, staying hydrated, and cooling the skin. Some people also find it helpful to apply aloe vera gel or to take OTC pain medication.
A person may need medical treatment if the skin blisters or sunburn is severe.
Hyperhidrosis is a condition that causes excessive sweating. When it affects the feet, it may cause peeling. This can happen if the skin is frequently wet.
- prescription-strength aluminum chloride antiperspirant
- iontophoresis, which involves passing a low-voltage electrical current through water and into the bottom of the feet
- medications to reduce sweating
A doctor may also want to investigate the underlying cause. Some people may sweat more than others naturally, but it can also be a symptom of another condition or a side effect of a medication.
A doctor may be able to diagnose the cause of peeling feet via a physical examination. Sometimes, they may also recommend other tests to determine the underlying cause, such as:
The best way to treat peeling feet is to speak with a doctor and follow their recommendations. Treatments vary based on the cause — without knowing the underlying reason, treatments and remedies may not work.
However, if a person knows the cause, there may be things they can try at home to further help improve the symptoms. For example, for dry skin, this may include:
- avoiding hot showers and baths
- avoiding harsh soaps
- keeping the feet warm
- using exfoliants, such as salt scrubs, to gently remove dead skin
- applying moisturizer after the feet get wet
If a person has athlete’s foot, they can try:
- wearing clean, moisture-wicking socks
- keeping the feet cool and dry, for example, by wearing open-toed shoes, where possible
- using antifungal powders or sprays inside the shoes after each use
- wearing flip-flops or shower shoes in public showers and changing rooms
If a person does not know if the cause of their peeling foot skin is contagious, they should protect other household members by wearing socks or indoor shoes and not sharing towels or footwear.
For recurring blisters, changing footwear or wearing protective socks or pads where the blisters occur may help to prevent them.
A person with peeling feet should speak with a medical professional about their symptoms, especially if home care is not working.
The doctor can perform an examination and take a skin scraping or biopsy. This enables them to diagnose the underlying cause of the issue accurately.
There are various reasons why the bottom of the feet can peel but not feel itchy. For example, dry skin, athlete’s foot, and sunburn can all cause peeling without itching.
A person may be able to treat some of these conditions with home or OTC remedies. However, if the condition persists or worsens, a person should consult a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.