While most people associate rashes with other areas of the body, foot rashes are more common than you think – and they can be very troublesome. Few things in life are as annoying and frustrating as an itchy, red rash.
How do you know which kind of rash you have? And more importantly, is there anything you can do to ease the discomfort?
Here are some of the most common causes and varieties of foot rashes, along with ways they are typically treated.
The Common Culprits
When it comes to foot rashes, there are several potential causes. Some of the rashes are relatively mild; others can be much more severe.
· Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is a contagious condition caused by a fungus on your foot.1
You can identify athlete’s foot by the scaly patches that appear on the sole or (less commonly) the top of your foot, or between your toes.
The rash will itch and burn, and possibly even sting affected areas. The skin may thicken and turn white, and then crack. It’s a painful process, to be sure.2
How do you get athlete’s foot? Locker room showers are notorious breeding grounds, as are fitness centers. You need to wear slippers or shoes at all times in these areas. The key is to keep your feet dry.
Treatments for athlete’s foot typically include topical over-the-counter antifungal creams or ointments designed to dissolve the rash and reduce any swelling that might occur.
Certain soaps, fragrances, and detergents can cause allergies, so you may notice a rash after wearing socks that have recently been washed. Or, if you’ve recently spent time outside wearing sandals, you may have accidentally brushed up against some poison ivy.
There are a lot of different ways you can develop a foot rash due to contact dermatitis. This condition usually leads to blisters, as well as scaly rashes. While treatment typically involves the use of an antihistamine or a topical steroid, prescription steroids may be needed in more severe instances.3
· Autoimmune Problems
A rash can also develop due to an autoimmune disorder, which occurs when the immune system attacks the body. The flu can also lead to a rash. If you have a foot rash that doesn’t go away after treatment, you should consult your doctor to get to the underlying cause.4
· Skin Conditions
Rashes can also be the result of a skin condition, such as psoriasis or eczema. Psoriasis rashes are usually characterized by white, scaly spots. Eczema can cause itchy, scaly rashes, as well as blisters on the soles of your feet. The more you scratch, the tougher it will be to treat the problem, because the skin will become thicker and harder.5
If you don’t seek the proper treatment for psoriasis or eczema rash on your feet quickly, it could worsen and spread. Get to a doctor or a dermatologist, and in the meantime, keep the area well-moisturized.
An infection can sometimes cause a foot rash. One particularly difficult type of infection is known as scabies, which is caused by tiny mites. This kind of rash usually leads to the development of red patches on your foot.
A foot scabies rash may first appear like a small bug bite or a pimple and be extremely itchy. This problem will typically affect the soles of the feet. If you see an extremely thin black line near the problem area, that is where a mite is burrowing into your skin. Get medical help as soon as you can, because there may be other mites affecting other areas of your body.6
Foot Rash Symptoms
There are some obvious symptoms that accompany a foot rash, such as itchiness, the formation of odd-colored discharge or pus (indicating a possible infection), scaly spots and tenderness.
But there are others that should be a cause for concern. If, for example, you experience coughing, fever, a runny nose, headache, or a sore throat about the same time you notice a foot rash, seek medical help. You should also see a doctor if you experience any joint stiffness, a sore throat, or sweating along with the rash.
These more serious symptoms could be the sign of a major problem. Some of the more potentially severe issues include strep throat, measles, mumps, chickenpox, and shingles.
Seeing a Doctor – What to Expect
When you see a doctor for your foot rash, they’ll want to know several things that may help them make a proper diagnosis. Have you recently spent a great deal of time outdoors? Are you taking any kinds of medications? Have you recently tried any new types of products, such as fragrances or a new kind of soap? Many times, your answers will give your doctor clear clues about what kind of foot rash you’re experiencing.
It’s very important that you get medical help if your rash doesn’t go away after a few days. Delaying treatment could lead to severe complications – if your rash is a sign you have the mumps, you could run the risk of hearing loss, and possibly even a brain infection. These kinds of complications are rare, but you should stay on the safe side if you have any reason for concern.
Prevention and Treatment
There are a few things you can do to avoid developing a foot rash, as well as some things you can do on your own should one crop up. For example, if you notice a rash after using a new foot powder, discontinue use, and see if the problem clears up on its own.
In some instances, the culprit could be a new carpet you’ve been walking on or even the rubber in the shoes that you recently purchased. Try an over-the-counter antifungal cream to see if the rash goes away, and call a doctor if it doesn’t.
If you tend to be prone to developing athlete’s foot, make sure you thoroughly dry your feet after you take a shower – toes and all. Change your socks a couple of times a day if you work out, and make sure you alternate your shoes, so they’ll have time to properly dry in-between uses.
By taking a few simple precautions such as these, you might be able to reduce the chances you’ll have to deal with an annoying, itchy foot rash. But if you do get one, and it doesn’t go away after treating it with either an over-the-counter cream or ointment, don’t hesitate to see a doctor.