Hot Itchy Feet
Hot itchy feet is a common symptom in people of all ages, although it is more prevalent in individuals who are older than 50 years. It may be caused by lifestyle habits but in some people, it may be related to another medical condition. If you are in good health, having hot itchy feet should not cause you to worry. However, it is always best to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Causes of Hot Itchy Feet
There are many possible causes of burning pain and persistent itching in the feet. These include:
1. Skin Problems
- Athlete’s Foot. This condition is caused by a fungal infection (Tinea pedis) and is common among athletes and people who use public bathrooms, swimming pools, and areas with wet floors while they walk with bare feet. The soles, sides and the top of the feet may be affected, as well as the skin between the toes. Blisters, skin cracks, redness, skin peeling and soreness are common symptoms.
- Contact Dermatitis. Skin irritation and rashes appear after contact with certain objects like the shoes. This causes inflammation and redness characteristic of dermatitis.
- Cutaneous Larva Migrans. Itchy rashes caused by parasitic infection in the feet are common in tropical and subtropical regions. Also called ground itch, this condition is caused by walking barefoot in moist soil or sand.
- Scabies. Tiny mites can burrow themselves under the skin and cause persistent itch and rashes. However, these may also affect other parts of the body aside from the feet.
About one-third of diabetic patients complain of itchiness in the feet especially at night. This may be caused by any of the following, which are related to diabetes:
- Peripheral Neuropathy. A nerve dysfunction can cause foot itchiness among diabetics. This is characterized by tremors, tingling, numbness and sensation of pins-and-needles, which can be quite uncomfortable.
- Fungal Infections. Diabetics are prone to fungal infections like Athlete’s foot, which is associated with itchy red rashes between the toes. Toenail fungus, characterized thickening and yellowing of nails are also common.
- Liver Failure. Liver disease associated with diabetes causes obstruction of the bile, which gives rise to itchiness. It is believed that accumulation of the bile salts under one’s skin may result in itching of the palms and soles.
3. Other Diseases
- Gout. Inflammation of joints related to gout may be accompanied by a burning sensation on the sides of the feet or toes, especially the big toe. Patients may wake up at night feeling a burning sensation in the large toe.
- Blood Disorders. Blood disorders such as thrombocytopenia and erythromelalgia may cause hot, itchy feet. Erythromelalgia is a rare disorder characterized by intermittent blockage of the blood vessels while thrombocytopenia is a disorder where blood fails to clot.
- Metatarsalgia. This is a foot disorder characterized by sharp, burning or aching pain in the toes and in the ball of the foot caused by overuse and degeneration of the fat pads in the feet. This may be related to the use of improper footwear during high-impact sports or activities, which places too much pressure on the foot.
Many pregnant women experience itching in the feet and it is believed that this is due to the enlargement of the uterus and the release of sex hormones or enzymes from the liver during this stage. Itching can be severe and some pregnant mothers scratch until they bleed.
5. Vitamin Deficiencies
A deficiency in B-complex vitamins can lead to hot, itchy feet. Poor diet, alcohol abuse, chronic diarrhea and heavy metal poisoning are some causes of vitamin deficiency. The skin becomes itchy when it is dry due to lack of nutrition in the blood.
6. Ill-Fitting Shoes
Wearing tight shoes leads to poor circulation and skin irritation, which may cause hot, itchy feet. This may cause nerve compression and compromised blood circulation, which contribute to these symptoms.
Treatments for Hot Itchy Feet
Depending on the cause of itching in the feet, one may need simple home remedies or medical treatment.
1. Home Remedies
- Good Hygiene. Finally, the best way to prevent and treat infection causing hot, itchy feet is to maintain good personal hygiene. Fungal infection is a contagious disease, and you should be careful not to wear other people’s shoes. Avoid direct contact with mud or sand and with the footwear of infected persons.
- Antifungal Cream. This may be effective in preventing or curing fungal infections like Athlete’s foot when applied between toes or other areas affected.
- Herbs and Essential Oils. Herbs and essential oils have antifungal properties and can help heal infections. Effective herbs include tea tree oil, garlic, licorice, and turmeric. You can also try soaking your hot, itchy feet in water with a few drops of rosemary or peppermint oil to heal blisters or foot lesions.
- White Vinegar. Apply white vinegar to the feet and dry them using a hair dryer after bath. You can also try hydrogen peroxide, which helps reduce bacterial and fungal infection.
- Moisture Absorbing Agents. Cornstarch and talcum powder absorb moisture and they can be applied to the feet and in between the toes just before putting on your shoes.
- Proper Footwear. Use shoes and other footwear that fit properly. Avoid using tight footwear, which impedes circulation and cause itching.
2. Medical Treatments
Some causes of hot, itchy feet need to be treated in order to relieve the discomfort in the feet. Symptoms related to diabetes, vitamin deficiency, infection or gout, for example, must be given medical attention after proper diagnosis by a doctor. You may need to undergo a complete physical examination, some blood tests, and other diagnostic tests to identify the definite cause of your symptoms.