It’s easy, and completely natural, to assume your itchy feet are the result of athlete's foot. While this is certainly a strong possibility, you should also consider that perhaps you are suffering from one of the many skin allergies that can be found in feet. The best way to understand what is actually happening—and then find the relief you need—is to contact our team at Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
When people think of allergic reactions, it is common to presume it’s either from touching or ingesting some kind of material. In such instances, particularly in the case of touch, the reaction is called allergic contact dermatitis (or simply “dermatitis”). When your skin makes direct contact with even a small amount of an allergen, you might develop scaly, itchy, swollen, red, or bumpy skin at the point of contact.
Poison oak, ivy, and sumac are potential sources of this skin allergy. The itchy, red rash you develop is due to an oily coating that covers these plants. Unlike with other allergens, you do not have to actually touch those plants – contact with pets, clothing, or gardening tools that have been exposed to the oil can pass it along to you.
If you are experiencing welts that feel painful and itchy on your feet, it could be the result of a skin disorder known as angioedema, caused by skin allergies. Though it most commonly affects the skin around your lips and eyes, it can also affect your feet. Substances that lead to these allergies include: berries, eggs, insect bites, animal dander, antibiotics, and shellfish. Extreme temperatures and sunlight can also potentially cause itching sensations. Additional symptoms can include cramping and difficulty breathing.
Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)
Eczema—the most common skin allergy—is prominently found in children. One in five infants are actually affected by this condition, but it is only noted in about one in fifty adults.
Experts believe eczema is due to a “leaky” skin barrier, which causes the skin to be prone to inflammation, irritation, and dryness from environmental factors. Those who have this condition may also have a food sensitivity that can exacerbate the eczema symptoms. Antihistamines are not effective in controlling the symptoms, since the itch associated with eczema is not caused by histamine (unlike with hives). Eczema is frequently associated with food allergies, hay fever, and asthma.
Most commonly, but not exclusively, found in women, dyshidrotic eczema causes blisters along the feet. These small blisters are filled with fluid and tend to be rather itchy. Affected skin will usually be red and flakey, and scratching only worsens the itchiness (and can also lead to infection). The exact cause of this particular type of eczema is unknown, but tends to be more prevalent in people who have other allergies.
When your immune system releases histamine, it leads to an inflammation of the skin that causes tiny blood vessels to leak and swell. When this happens in the deep layers of your skin, it is called angioedema. This is the source of the welts commonly associated with urticaria.
There are two different kinds of urticaria – acute and chronic. Acute urticaria happens when you break out into hives after you eat a specific food or come into contact with a certain trigger. It can also be onset by non-allergic causes, as well. Heat, exercise, foods, insect bites, and medications are all triggers for this condition.
Chronic urticaria, on the other hand, is rarely caused by such specific triggers, so allergy tests do not often provide help. Chronic cases can last for months or even years. Hives may often be uncomfortable and sometimes painful, but they are not contagious.
Professional Care for Foot Allergies
When you have itchy, burning feet you can try to use athlete’s foot powder or spray, but a better move is to contact Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona and have our professionals diagnose your condition and see if it’s actually skin allergies. Doing so will ensure you are on an appropriate treatment plan. Contact our Gilbert office by calling (480) 981-1800, our Chandler office at (480) 963-9000, or request your appointment online right now.