Peeling Feet

Peeling feet is a non-contagious skin condition that can cause discomfort. The skin is usually subjected to constant wear as one performs day-to-day activities. Its outer layer can withstand a considerable amount of friction and pressure. However, constant peeling may be a symptom of a serious health condition.

Normally, the skin protects other parts of the body. It helps in retaining water and protecting vital organs against external elements such as heat, wind and cold. Often, feet are covered by shoes and socks which may limit their exposure to various elements. However, one may still expose their skin to extreme dryness. It's crucial to understand the symptoms, causes and treatment options of peeling feet.

Symptoms of Peeling Feet

Peeling feet manifest a variety of symptoms including:

  • Red rash
  • Insomnia
  • Painful and itchy rash
  • Dry skin
  • Scalp itchiness
  • Foot redness
  • Persistent foot pain
  • Foot skin color change
  • Stinging sensation

Causes of Peeling Feet

Several factors and conditions may cause the feet to peel. They can be categorized as environmental factors and other conditions.

Environmental factors include:

  • Trauma: this is as a result of repeated irritation from irritants such as ill-fitting footwear to chemicals and physical activity.
  • Environment: skin reacts to heat, humidity, dryness, wind and too much sun by peeling. Sunburn is a good example.
  • Natural bodily function: foot is susceptible to skin build-up. The body naturally gets rid of the skin resulting in peeling.
  • Fungal: warm moist conditions are ideal for fungi growth and development.
  • Allergies: environmental substances can irritate the skin causing it to peel.

Top Causes of Peeling Feet

1. Athlete's Foot

Athlete's foot is a type of fungal infection that typically occurs in the feet. It starts around the toes before spreading to the rest of the feet. Initially, it looks like a scaly red rash. As the condition advances, the skin gets itchy as it peels off. One can have the fungal infection on one foot. The condition spreads quickly in poorly maintained spas. Avoid walking barefoot in such places to avoid contracting this infection.

Most dermatologists treat athlete's foot patients with anti-fungal powder and cream. It's advisable to keep feet dry and clean. If the condition doesn't improve, it's wise to seek a prescription for anti-fungal treatment. Also, if you are diabetic and you notice any athlete's foot related symptoms, consult a dermatologist urgently. Diabetic patients are highly susceptible to athlete's foot complications including skin damage and ulcers.

2. Shoe Contact Dermatitis

Shoe dermatitis is a constant irritation which occurs when an individual's skin reacts to particular materials in their shoes. Such materials include nickel, formaldehyde, leather and rubber. It manifests as blisters, dry skin, swelling and itchiness. If one continues wearing the same shoes, the condition may worsen.

For treatment, use an over-the-counter cream containing hydrocortisone. It helps in reducing itchiness. However, if the symptoms last for over a week, visit your doctor. They may perform an allergy test to determine the actual cause of the irritation.

3. Dyshidrotic Eczema

Dyshidrotic is eczema that mostly affects feet and hands. It causes itchy blisters between the toes which may be due to allergies, stress or contact with certain metals. Normally, these blisters disappear after several weeks. As eczema heals, the blisters cause feet dryness and peel off.

Apply a cold compress or a genuine cooling lotion to relieve the itchy sensation. If the condition worsens, your dermatologists may give you a steroid cream prescription.

4. Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a distinct autoimmune health condition which shortens skin cells' lifespan. It causes thick cell patches which accumulate on the skin surface. As they thicken, they appear scaly, silver or red.

At times, these sores are itchy or sore. In some scenarios, the feet may bleed as a result of dead skin cells peeling off. Toenails may also thicken.

There is no definite treatment for psoriasis. Current management therapies include topical corticosteroids. They aid in reducing inflammation and symptoms.

One may smear salicylic acid on the affected part. It helps in removing dead cells hence moisturizing the skin and keeping it clean. Furthermore, it's advisable not to scratch skin patches to avoid a recurring infection.

How to Diagnose Peeling Feet?

There are a variety of tests that a doctor may perform to diagnose peeling feet including:

  • Woods test: A doctor uses a magnifying lens to produce an ultraviolet light. The fungi appear as a green fluorescence on a person's hair shafts while under an ultraviolet ray. The material isn't a fungus but the fungus' products.
  • Microscopic test: A doctor takes a skin sample from the affected part and immerses it in a staining solution to check it under a microscope. Typical fungal spores are present on hair shafts. The technique efficiently detects most of peeling feet infections.

How to treat Peeling Feet

There are two major types of peeling feet treatments, namely:

  • At-home treatments: They include maintaining good hygiene, using moisturizers and OTC medications. Also, soaking feet in warm water for about 20 minutes helps in softening the affected skin patch. It enables you to scrub it gently.
  • Professional treatments: In severe cases, a doctor may use antibiotics or antifungal medications. Also, they may prescribe certain foot creams. They need to closely monitor the skin condition to ensure it improves little by little.

How to Prevent Peeling Feet

There are certain measures that you can take to prevent a peeling feet infection, including:

  • Thoroughly washing of feet with soapy water
  • Wearing cotton-made socks when traveling for long distances
  • Buying shoes which aren't too tight
  • Cleaning shoes with a detergent
  • Applying an anti-fungal cream whenever one experiences feet itchiness

When Should You Call A Doctor?

If you experience itchy and painful skin inflammation on your feet, it may dissipate within a week. However, if it persists for several weeks, it's prudent to see a doctor. If at-home treatments seem not to work or your peeling feet condition doesn't improve. Your doctor may give you a prescription treatment.

Peeling feet is common. There are a variety of conditions that may cause peeling feet including psoriasis, athlete's foot and eczema. It's prudent to urgently seek medical attention if your feet's skin swells and peels off. You can fully recover within two weeks if you adhere to the prescribed medication.