What could cause the dry, itchy patches on the bottom of my feet?

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
The most common cause of red, itchy, dry patches of skin on the feet is a fungal infection commonly called "Athlete's Foot."

The itchy patches are usually found on the bottom of the feet. They can extend up the sides of the foot in a "moccasin" form. The itchy patches can also go between the toes. Blisters and skin cracks may form, causing burning and stinging.

Athlete's Foot can develop after walking barefooted where someone else with a fungal foot infection has walked. Typical sites are around swimming pools and in locker rooms. The fungus likes to grow in a warm, moist environment, such as on sweaty feet inside shoes.

The fungus that causes Athlete's Foot can infect other areas of skin, hair, and nails. So getting treatment is important. Over-the-counter anti-fungal creams and lotions should be applied until the rash is gone and then for a couple more weeks to make sure the infection is gone. In persistent cases, you doctor may need to prescribe an antifungal cream or oral (by mouth) antifungal drug.

Avoid walking barefooted on public surfaces where others may have walked barefooted. Avoid vinyl shoes or those made of other materials that don't "breathe." Wear adsorbent socks, such as those made of cotton or wool.

There are other conditions that can resemble Athlete's Foot, so see a doctor if the rash does not go away with over-the-counter treatment.
Harvard Medical School Skin Care and Repair

More About this Book

Harvard Medical School Skin Care and Repair

Where can you get authorotative advice on skin care? There's plenty of advice out there on TV, the internet and in the aisles of stores peddling skin care products. Despite the abundance of products...

Continue Learning about Foot Skin and Nail Care

5 Embarrassing Foot Problems, Solved
5 Embarrassing Foot Problems, Solved
Athlete’s Foot Athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis, is an infection that leads to itchy, burning, scaly and inflamed skin. It’s caused by ringworm, a fungu...
Read More
What is nail care?
Nail care refers to the proper maintenance of the fingernails and toenails. Learn more from our expe...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.