Itchy Soles of Feet

image001 Itchy soles of feet can be more annoying than other itchiness. The feet are always exposed to various conditions such as extremes in temperature, moisture and stress, which can leave them vulnerable to skin irritations or even fungal infections, leading to itchiness in the soles of feet. Considering that there are various conditions behind such discomfort, this irritating itchiness should be treated depending on the root cause while there are some home remedies which can help relieve the itchiness for mild causes.

Causes of Itchy Soles of Feet

Itchy soles may be brought about by a variety of factors. Natural factors such as aging and insect bites are common causes, but personal habits such as walking with bare feet and wearing sweaty socks and shoes can also contribute. Others get itchy feet from infections, allergies and other conditions.

1. Dry Skin

Xerosis cutis, or dry skin may be caused by aging, some medical condition (like allergy or malnutrition) or some external factors (such as harsh skin products, cold weather, physical stress or low humidity). These can cause skin cracking and itchiness of the soles, which may be relieved by applying moisturizing skin lotions and creams regularly.

2. Athlete’s Foot

Also known as tinea pedis, this condition is a common foot infection caused by fungus. Symptoms include skin dryness, scaly rashes, and itchiness. Athlete's foot may affect the soles of your feet with a widespread powdery rash or it can appear as localized rashes between toes. Acute infection causes red, inflamed rashes with blisters. Scratching the blisters leads to further irritation. Fungal infection may be treated with antifungal medications and symptoms may be relieved by application of topical corticosteroids.

3. Eczema

Skin rashes that appear like athlete's foot may be caused by eczema. Lesions can appear as thick and scaly skin in small circular areas or as large but less distinct skin lesions. Eczema may be caused by overexposure to sweat or moisture or by very dry skin exposed to excess heat or low humidity. Treatment consists of topical ointments and creams to help balance skin pH, rehydrate the skin, and protect it from sweat or excess dryness. Inflammation may be reduced using topical corticosteroids.

4. Contact Dermatitis

Skin contact with an allergen or irritants can cause red skin, rashes and itchy skin. Skin irritants include chemicals in shoes, skin products, perfumes, medications with neomycin, and other allergens that trigger allergic reactions in the skin of the foot. Use topical and oral corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and lotions and creams to soothe itchiness. Consult an allergist or a dermatologist for patch testing, which helps identify the offending allergen which causes the rash.

5. Dyshidrosis

This uncommon skin condition appears as small blisters filled with fluid on the palms, between fingers and the soles of the feet. These blisters can last up to three weeks causing intense itching. Blisters usually recur even before the skin heals completely. Treatment consists of topical ointment or creams but severe cases may need oral intake of prednisone pills (corticosteroids).

6. Scabies

This is an itchy skin infection caused by mites that burrow into the skin. Intense itching often occurs at night, causing you to scratch. The infection spreads through close physical contact within families, schools, and institutions such as nursing homes. Doctors therefore treat not only the patients but also their families and close contacts, using topical antibiotics that kill both mites and eggs. However, symptoms may persist for several weeks.

7. Pitted Keratolysis

This is a common bacterial infection also called "toxic sock syndrome."  It usually affects athletes, causing a foul foot odor similar to that of a rotten fish. It is often associated with sweaty feet, closed shoes, and hot and damp conditions. It can cause pain and itchy soles of feet, as well as the appearance of pits that can join to form large lesions. Treatment consists of a combination of foot care to reduce moisture, antibiotics (topical and oral), topical antifungal preparations and prescription-strength antiperspirants to eliminate infection and odor.

Relief Measures for Itchy Soles of Feet

Specific treatments for conditions mentioned above include medications such as moisturizing creams, antifungals and corticosteroids, which are often applied directly on the skin (topical treatments). These may be prescribed by a doctor, although some products many be bought over the counter. Simple home remedies are also available to relieve unbearable itching in mild conditions. However, they will not cure skin infection. Be sure to consult your doctor before using these if the skin of your soles is red, smelly, scaly, cracked, or has painful blisters.

1. Baking Soda

Make a paste out of baking soda to relieve itching and burning sensations on the foot. Combine one tablespoon baking soda with two to three teaspoons water and stir until the mixture forms a paste. Spread this mixture on your feet, including the skin between  the toes. Let dry for 5-10 minutes then rinse off with cool water. Pat dry with a clean towel. You can apply some cornstarch lightly on the skin to reduce moisture. Baking soda does not cure fungal infections like athlete's foot but it may soothe itchy soles of feet.

2. Salt Water

Soaking your feet in some saltwater to ease irritation and painful itching. Prepare a saltwater soak by stirring in two teaspoons salt into one pint warm water. Use a shallow pan to immerse feet for 5-10 minutes. Repeat soaking process every hour or until itching subsides.

3. Walnut Hull

Prepare a moisturizer from walnut hull to relieve itching due to dry skin. First combine one teaspoonful of ground walnut hull with one cup water into a saucepan. Simmer this mixture for half an hour over medium heat, then strain through a fine wire mesh sieve. Pour half a cup of warm liquid on your feet and pat dry with a towel. Mix three tablespoons calendula blossom oil, five drops eucalyptus oil, and ten drops tea tree oil. Massage this mixture on your feet.