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What Are the Causes of Itching on the Bottom of the Feet?

author image Gianna Rose
Gianna Rose is a registered nurse certified in hospice and palliative care, as well as a certified wellness coach. She completed Duke Integrative Medicine's Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course in 2009. Rose also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
What Are the Causes of Itching on the Bottom of the Feet?
Woman's bare feet.


Itching on the bottom of the feet has a variety of possible causes. Walking barefoot and wearing sweaty shoes make the feet susceptible to some disorders that cause itching. Other causes, such as scabies, may also cause itching on the bottom of the feet. A dermatologist can evaluate itchy feet to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.

Athlete's Foot

Athlete's foot, or tinea pedis, is a fungal infection of the feet that causes itching on the bottom of the feet and between the toes. It is contagious, and typically spreads in damp or wet areas where bare feet are common, such as locker rooms and showers,. Athlete's foot can also be spread by sharing towels and improperly cleaned pedicure instruments. It starts with fissures, or cracks, between the toes. Skin becomes itchy, red and moist-looking. Although research published in 2013 in "The Foot" noted that soaking feet in a bath containing green tea polyphenols seemed to have some antifungal properties, the standard treatment is over-the-counter antifungal creams or powders. A doctor can prescribe drugs for stubborn athlete's foot.


Scabies is an intensely itchy skin condition caused by mites that burrow deep into the skin. In children, scabies commonly affects the soles of the feet, palms of the hands, face, neck and scalp. Adults most often experience symptoms in skin folds, such as under the breasts or armpits, between the fingers, at the belt line and on the inside of the elbows and wrists. A red rash, tiny blisters and burrow tracks are symptoms. Itching is usually severe, and typically worsens at night. Treatment with products that kill the mites and their eggs -- "scabicides" -- is available by prescription only.

Pitted Keratolysis

Pitted keratolysis, or "toxic sock syndrome," is a bacterial infection of the soles of the feet that causes a foul odor similar to rotting fish, according to a 1998 article published "American Family Physician." It is common in athletes. Causes include unventilated shoes, sweaty feet and hot, damp weather. Pitted keratolysis causes itching and pain on the bottom of the feet. It is characterized by white patches covered with small, superficial pits that may join together and form larger lesions. A combination of treatments, including minimizing moisture, oral and topical antibiotics, antifungal creams and prescription antiperspirants, is needed to resolve the infection.

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