What do you mean by itchy soles of feet?
There are certain times during the day when the soles of your feet become very itchy and the urge to scratch just does not go away. Pruritus is the second name for this condition which is itchy soles of feet. There are a number of reasons for itchy soles some of them being athlete’s foot, dermatitis and systemic disease. These diseases range from mild intensity ones to severe ones. There medication and treatment depends upon the intensity at which it occurs. These itches can even develop rashes and can cover either a small area or the entire foot. Try to find the root cause before treating these itches. Itchy soles of the feet are very irritating and sometimes make walking very difficult sometimes.
The itch can start at any time of the day or even night. It is easy to handle the condition during the day as the brain is active and the urge to scratch can be controlled. Whereas, during the night, when a person is sleeping, the brain is in an active mode and uncontrolled scratching can lead to bruises, boils and wounds. However, unfortunately itching occurs more often during the night due to fall in adrenaline and cortisone levels and increase in histamine levels.
Causes of itchy soles of feet
- Exogenous causes
- Lack of moisture in the skin is one of the most common causes of itchy soles. Problem of dry skin usually affects elderly people more than the young population. Skin drying is more frequent during the cold winter months than the summers.
- Contact dermatitis is also one of the reasons of itchy soles. This skin reaction is caused due to over exposure to irritants or allergens such as cosmetics, detergents, soaps, lotion, poison ivy, etc. It might take few days to fade away only if it comes in contact with the allergen for a longer period of time.
- A chronic skin condition characterized by itching, scaling and inflammation known as Palmoplantar Psoriasis also causes itchy soles of feet. The most recurring effect of this skin disease is the constant attacks of skin rashes on the soles. The foot becomes scaly and cracked and even pains and bleeds if the condition aggravates. Small red patches can be seen on the foot which makes walking difficult, causes emotional distress and obstructs a person to spend excess time on feet .
- Lichen Planus is also an inflammatory skin condition. This condition is characterized by small itchy non infectious rashes that can appear either on one foot or both. These commonly emerge at night and give a sudden appearance and might last for several months. As the rashes subside dark brown or grey patches or spots are left behind which are more visible on dark skin.
- Ring worm are very common disease appearing at any area of the feet. These are round scaly patches, usually delicate and itchy. It causes thickening, drying and toughening of the skin on the foot which are even discolored.
- Candida Albicans cause a skin infection popularly known as candidal intertrigo. The infection is a diploid fungus growing as a filamentous cell or yeast which can have unpleasant affect on the soles of the feet. They are usually seen between the toes in the folds of the skin.
- Tinea Pedis also known as Athlete’s Foot is a fungal infection that affects the foot. People suffering from athlete foot experience cracks between the toes initially and slowly the skin becomes itchy, moist looking and red at the bottom of the feet. The fissures become more painful if blisters form. It also results in a foul odor if the blisters are not treated because they release pus. This infection is contagious and generally found in locker rooms, pool areas and public showers and can also pass through sharing of towels.
- Norwegian scabies also popularly known as scabies is a contagious infection affecting the feet. Scabies are caused by small mites who are not visible and burrow themselves deep under the skin. These cause excessive itching and its intensity increase during the night. Some common symptoms of this infection are red rashes, tiny blisters and in some cases burrow tracks.
- Toxic shock syndrome also called Pitted Keratolysis is a bacterial infection usually seen in athletes. This infection is present on the soles and is usually caused from the foot being overexposed to hot moist environment. This occurs due to sweaty feet or unventilated shoes. Some symptoms of the disease are pain, itching and foul odor just like a smell of a rotting fish. You can even see lesions appearing which are white in color, covered by superficial pits which might attach to each other to form larger lesions.
- Endogenous causes
Endogenous causes include systematic causes, idiopathic causes, vitamin deficiency, Palmoplanter Hyperhidrosis and other genetic conditions like aquagenic pruritus, atopic dermatitis and senile pruritus. Leukemia, endocrine disturbances, chronic kidney failure, hypothyroidism, cutaneous mastocytosis, liver disease and cutaneous mastocytosis are few systematic causes of itchy soles. Few causes occur without any reasons which are commonly known as idiopathic causes. Itchy soles also occur due to vitamin deficiency such as Vitamin B6, B12 and B1. Even Crohn’s disease and HIV infections have symptoms of itchy soles of feet.
Other factors that can also cause itchy soles of feet are:
- Foot rashes
- Material of shoes
- Material of socks
- Insect, ticks or flea stings
- Exposure to poisonous plants like Poison Ivy
- Over sweating of the feet
Symptoms of itchy soles of feet
Itchy feet can be accompanied by several other symptoms like:
- Redness of the feet
- Unexplained inflammation of the feet and sole
- Blisters or boils
- Cracks in the skin and heels
- Peeling of the skin
- Bleeding due to excessive scratching
- Open sores
The best way to get relief from the listed symptoms is to abstain yourself from scratching the sole of your feet.
Diagnosing Itchy Soles of feet
If you are facing a tough time in dealing with itchy soles of feet and symptoms such as redness, bruises, skin flaking, dryness of the skin, allergies and inflammation then you must consult a podiatrist immediately. The itchy soles can be a result of an underlying fungal or bacterial infection that may require proper treatment.
Your doctor will conduct a physical examination of your feet and may also take a few samples of your skin to study the presence of foreign organisms that are causing the itch. On proper diagnosis, the doctor will then prescribe medication and a course of treatment depending on the cause.
Questions to ask your doctor
After the diagnosis are complete, below is a list of questions that you should definitely ask your doctor and may help you in the longer run:
- What material of socks should I wear?
- What material of shoes should I opt for?
- What can I do to stop myself from scratching my feet at night?
- What kind of creams do you recommend to keep the feet moisturised?
- Do you recommend any medicines that can ease itching?
- Should I also consult a dermatologist?
Treatment of itchy soles of feet
Treatment of itchy soles greatly depends on its cause. Depending upon the causes, there are several treatment and prevention methods that can be adopted.
- Home remedies
Home remedies are one of largest used way to getting rid of itchy soles.
- Moisturizing your feet daily
Keep your feet moisturized daily. Number of creams are available in the market with moisturizing ingredients which can help you to take care of your dry feet and the feet sensitive to soap and detergents.
- Applying Antihistamines
Antihistamines such as terfenadine or cetirizine can be used to get relieve from itching soles. Different types of antihistamines are available according to the intensity of itching and rashes.
- Special creams
Topical doxepin hydrochloride 5% is a special cream to relieve itching soles. This cream gets absorbed and can even help you to get sleep. This cream cannot be used in those cases where a person has a tendency of urinary retention, anyone using antidepressants and people with narrow angle glaucoma.
- Keep your feet clean and dry at all times. Opt for clean shoes and socks and do not wear a pair of socks more than once. Keep your nails short and trimmed to avoid any kind of fungal growth or infection.
- Medical choices
Medical treatment should always be taken under a guidance of expert. Make sure you consult a doctor or a physician before taking any medical treatment. There a number of specific skin treatments to treat itchy soles. You can even try treating the underlying disease to get rid of itchy soles. Phototherapy is also gaining popularity. In this the patients suffering from itchy soles caused due to Cholestatic liver disease or Naltrexone can get treated effectively. Vitamin injections can also be taken to cure itchy soles caused due to vitamin deficiency.