It’s often said that itchy feet are a sign you’ll soon be going on a journey. That’s an appealing idea, but it doesn’t necessarily reflect reality. The likelihood is that persistent itchiness is caused by a foot problem, and it could stop you in your tracks if it’s not dealt with effectively.
When you feel an itch, it’s only natural to want to scratch it. However, scratching leads to the release of serotonin, which actually intensifies the itchiness. You can all too easily get trapped in the scratch-itch cycle and may damage your skin as a result, increasing your risk of developing further foot complaints.
That’s why it’s so important to identify and tackle the cause of your itching feet swiftly.
First, let’s consider one of the most common culprits: athlete’s foot. The British Medical Journal suggests that up to 30% of the population could be suffering from this itchy, frustrating fungal infection at any given time.
If you’re experiencing itchiness between your toes, coupled with inflamed, scaly skin, you may have athlete’s foot. As the fungi thrive in the dark, warm, moist environment your feet are exposed to in shoes, the infection will worsen without treatment. The itching can be incredibly irritating but scratching only spreads the problem.
Your podiatrist can determine which anti-fungal medication will eliminate the particular fungus that’s attacking your feet, leaving you itch-free.
Another major cause of itchy feet is dry, flaky skin. Your feet are vulnerable to excessive dryness due to their lack of natural oils.
Itchiness can be a warning sign that your skin is in poor condition. Unfortunately, scratching is likely to damage it further, making it easier for harmful bacteria to infect your body. You may also experience peeling, cracking and sores.
Dry skin can benefit from a foot cream containing urea, which has excellent hydrating properties. You could also visit your podiatrist for specialist dry skin care and to rule out the presence of a fungal infection or other underlying, itchy foot problem.
Do you have itchy, reddish swellings on your toes? You could have chilblains, which develop during chilly, wet weather. When your toes are cold, blood vessels near the surface get narrower. If they warm up too quickly (say, if you plunge your feet into warm water), the blood vessels can’t cope. Blood leaks into the surrounding tissues, causing chilblains.
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The swollen skin easily splits if scratched, putting you at risk of sores and infection.
Calamine lotion can soothe chilblains; but if they look infected or don’t heal within a few weeks, don’t hesitate to see your podiatrist for expert foot care.
Wearing summer footwear or going barefoot exposes skin to the sun’s harsh rays, and yet people often overlook their feet when applying sun cream.
Sunburned feet itch as a result of the damage skin has sustained. Calamine lotion can relieve the irritation.
However, sometimes the problem turns into ‘hell’s itch’. If you’re affected by this extreme reaction to sunburn, you’ll feel as if insects are constantly biting your feet. Hell’s itch is deeply unpleasant, but antihistamines or peppermint oil may soothe it.
If your feet are severely sunburned, it’s sensible to visit your podiatrist swiftly.
When you have diabetes, your body struggles to control the amount of glucose in your bloodstream. High blood sugar levels impair the function of the small blood vessels designed to supply your nerves with vital nutrients. That leads to a form of nerve damage known as diabetic neuropathy, with your feet often being worst affected.
They may itch due to damaged nerve fibres in your skin’s outer layers. You could experience other uncomfortable sensations too, ranging from mild (tingling or pins and needles) to severe (burning or shooting pains).
If you suspect that you’re developing diabetic neuropathy, you should visit your GP to discuss how to manage your diabetes more effectively, as well as how to potentially reduce the strange sensations with medication.
It’s also helpful to attend a diabetic foot assessment, in case nerve damage is masking other foot problems such as injury or infection.
For relief from itchy feet, please call the London podiatry team at Feet By Pody today on 0207 099 6657 or book an appointment online.