The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

What Causes Itchy Feet? White Plains Podiatrists Discuss 5 Common Causes

Posted by on Wednesday, December 19th, 2018


If your feet are constantly itching, you may wonder what causes itchy feet, and whether it’s a serious concern or not. Here in our White Plains office, podiatrists at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine treat patients with itchy feet with many different underlying causes. The prevalence of itchy feet seems to increase significantly over the winter months, so we thought we’d share ten of the most common reasons for itchy feet in our two-part series.

what causes itchy feet
Are your feet allergic to your new shoes or socks? That’s one of the top 10 causes of itchy feet, according to White Plains podiatrists. [Image Source:]

What Causes Itchy Feet?

1. Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the feet, typically picked up while walking barefoot in locker rooms, public pools, or hotel showers. Symptoms include a scaly red rash between the toes, possibly progressing to peeling and blisters. Athlete’s foot won’t go away on its own. If OTC topical creams don’t work, contact a podiatrist who can prescribe something stronger.

2. Bugs

Summers in NYC can be muggy—the ideal climate for mosquitoes to sneak into the bedroom. Bug bites trigger the release of histamine, causing inflammation and itch. A topical antihistamine like Benadryl can help reduce histamine levels in the body. A cold compress can also reduce inflammation, bringing some relief.

Worse yet, some New Yorkers have experienced scabies—a condition caused by microscopic mites burrowing into the top layer of skin. Scabies can be widespread, but most commonly affects the palms of the hand and soles of the feet. Sufferers develop a rash of thick, crusty sores with very intense itching. Itchy feet at night are commonly reported. See a White Plains foot doctor right away for prescription cream and oral medication.

3. Dermatitis

The feet come into contact with all sorts of potential allergens—irritants in soaps, cosmetics, or plants, for instance. Approximately 7% of the population is incredibly susceptible to allergic dermatitis. It could take 12-21 days from first contact to manifest allergic symptoms, so it’s often missed by patients. A common culprit is a dye found in dark socks. Wherever the sock touched the foot will typically itch if that’s the case. Other common sources include rubber in shoes, Steri-Strip adhesives, fabric softeners or laundry detergents, fragrances, diaper wipes, nail polish, hair dye, nickel, topical antibiotics, play mats, or poison ivy. Foot itching may be accompanied by redness, heat, swelling, and fissures. Allergic dermatitis can be treated by avoiding the root cause and applying OTC anti-itch creams. A foot doctor can help you prevent staph infection, improve the skin barrier, and prescribe a more potent medication to clear up the rash.

4. Diabetes

The high blood sugar experienced by people with diabetes is linked to dry, itchy skin—particularly on the feet. Roughly 11% of diabetics report itchy feet, compared to 2.9% of the general population. Circulation impairment, also caused by diabetes, puts these patients at risk for open sores and foot fungus infections. Prior to developing neuropathy (nerve damage), high levels of cytokines flood the body. These inflammatory substances can also trigger intense itching. As a general rule, we recommend heavy moisturizers to all our diabetic patients, but we can also treat diabetes-related foot itching with medication for fungal infections and help you get your blood sugars under control.

5. Dry Skin

Especially during these winter months, we love our long, hot showers. Unfortunately, this proclivity also causes dry, itchy skin. Perhaps you do not drink enough water. In some cases, people can inherit dry skin from their parents or suffer it as a side effect of a medication or other medical condition. Dry feet may simply look white or ashy, or it may lead to flaky scales and painful cracks in the skin. A thick everyday foot moisturizer used after a shower helps tremendously. If your feet are sticking to the sheets, consider sleeping with fuzzy socks on after your moisturizing treatment. NYC spas specializing in pedicures can give your feet a real treat, too!

Stop back on Friday for five more common causes of foot itching!

See an NYC Podiatrist to Relieve Itchy Feet

If you are experiencing uncomfortable, itchy feet, see a podiatrist for relief and treatment. We are particularly adept at treating foot itching and can counsel you in methods of alleviating excessive sweating or chronic dryness–two extremes that contribute to itching. We not only take care of your acute symptoms but also try to figure out what may be causing the itching and help you prevent any chronic or recurring problem. Schedule an appointment with an NY podiatrist today.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.