What Causes Itching Toes?

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  • Written By: Lori Smith
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2019
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The most common causes of itching toes include athlete's foot and other fungal infections, chilblain, contact dermatitis or allergic reactions, and sometimes simple bug bites are to blame. Most of these ailments are easily treatable with over-the-counter applications of sprays, creams or lotions. Others, such as chilblain, may require prompt medical treatment if severe symptoms are present. Itching toes may be combined with various symptoms, such as peeling skin and redness or swelling, which may be helpful in diagnosing the condition.

Most frequently, the occurrence of itching toes is due to athlete's foot or other types of fungal infections. People who spend a lot of time walking around barefoot in damp environments, such as locker rooms or communal swimming pools, often contract the fungus. While it is uncomfortable, athlete's foot is usually easy to treat. Over-the-counter medicated creams or sprays often cure the ailment. In some cases, however, a dermatologist may provide a prescription strength topical ointment. When a bacterial infection develops because of excessive scratching or skin breakage, antibiotics may also be prescribed.


Athlete's foot is contagious. To avoid spreading it to others, or contracting it from someone else, people should avoid walking barefoot in communal areas and sharing towels or footwear with others. Not only can it be transmitted from one person to the next, it may also spread to other areas of the body, such as the groin. When this happens, however, it is then called jock itch.

Not all occurrences of itching toes result from athlete's foot. When blisters and painful inflammation are also present and the individual lives in very cold and humid climate, chilblain may be the cause. Similar to frostbite or other conditions caused by extreme weather, chilblain is usually preventable by keeping extremities warm. If severe symptoms are present, prompt medical treatment may be necessary to prevent long-term damage to fingers or toes, which are the areas of the body most commonly affected by this condition.

Sometimes, contact dermatitis may cause itching toes when the foot is exposed to irritants to which people may be allergic, such as a new laundry detergent or other chemicals that causes an allergic reaction. It can even occur because of something as simple as a pair of new leather shoes. Certain medicated creams or a cool compress can help. Naturally, discontinuing use of the product that is causing the symptom will lessen the chance of the condition recurring.


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