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What Does It Mean When The Bottom Of Your Foot Itches?
It seems that nearly every body part has a meaning ascribed to its particular itch. Itchy feet tend to indicate travel.
What Does It Mean When The Bottom Of Your Foot Itches?
BY MARIA SCINTO AND CAT LAFUENTE/UPDATED: SEPT. 17, 2021 10:39 AM EDT
According to Scientific American, the meaning of an itch, whether on the bottom of your foot or elsewhere, is "a general sensation arising from the irritation of skin cells or nerve cells associated with the skin." Very helpful, indeed. If you want to know why you're itching, it may be because your socks are dirty, your feet are dirty, you're suffering from athlete's foot, you've had a recent barefoot encounter with poison ivy, or perhaps you are currently in the midst of a fish spa pedicure.
If you're wondering about the symbolic meaning of an itch on the bottom of your foot, however, that's where things get fun. It seems that nearly every body part has a meaning ascribed to its particular itch. For instance, an itchy nose might mean company's coming, and an itchy palm could have something to do with money. So, just what can you expect when the bottoms of your feet itch?
If your foot itches, you may want to take your luggage out of storage
You know that old saying about having "itchy feet," meaning a desire to keep moving from one place to the next, or at least to keep changing from one situation to another? This comes from a superstition that having itchy feet is a sign of an upcoming journey. According to AuntyFlo.com, which explained a number of superstitions linked to itchy feet, when the bottoms of your feet itch, it could indicate travel.
That's perhaps not too much of a stretch, as far as predictions go, since back in the day, running out of common household staples meant an all-day (or longer) journey to town in the old wagon — at least, this is how it always seemed to go down in Little House on the Prairie.
But there's more to this superstition than just the hint of travel to come. Where exactly the itch is on your foot — and which foot — plays a role.
The difference between an itchy left foot and an itchy right foot
AuntyFlo.com's "Superstition Dictionary" reveals that the left and right feet actually have different meanings, but if either or both are itching, it means travel, all right.
An itchy right foot alone may mean that the journey will require planning, but the trip will generally tend to be a positive one, and may even be lucrative.
Left feet, on the other hand — er, foot — can be tricky. Itching around the left foot may imply a journey that isn't too much fun — perhaps you'll come down with one of those traveler's ailments. Itching that is specific to the sole of the left toe may mean that you will experience losses due to the journey — whether of friends, money, time, or travel gear, the "Superstition Dictionary" does not say. If you set out with an itching left toe, though, keep a close eye on your wallet, don't pack anything important in your checked luggage, and also maybe rub a little Tinactin on it just to cover all the bases.
What else could it mean if the bottoms of your feet itch?
While experiencing an itch of the bottom of your feet may be a harbinger of an upcoming journey, that's not the only thing that such a sensation might foretell. According to The Chronicle Herald, a Canadian publication, there are two additional meanings that itchy feet might be prophesying.
For one, some North American folklore suggests when you feel an itch on the bottom of your foot that means someone is walking over the ground that will someday be your final resting place. Ideally that would be in a graveyard or other sacred burial site. It just depends on where you'll one day be buried.
The other possibility is a bit more akin to the possibility of travel, which is that itchy feet indicate you're going to be walking on "strange ground" in the near future. That could be an exotic locale you've never traveled to, sure, but it might also be a place nearby that you just never knew about.
Why Are My Feet Itchy? Meaning, Causes, & Treatment
Are you wondering why you have itchy feet? Read about common causes, what it means, and how to stop itchy feet from board-certified doctors.
Health guides > Symptom > Why Are My Feet Itchy? Meaning, Causes, & Treatment
Why Are My Feet Itchy? Meaning, Causes, & Treatment
By Jennifer Nadel, MD
Medically reviewed May 1, 2020
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Causes Signs and Symptoms Diagnosis Treatment Prevention
When to See a Doctor
How K Health Can Help
Are you experiencing itchy feet? You may be experiencing pruritus, a medical term that describes the sensation on your skin that gives you the urge to scratch. Pruritus can be an acute or chronic condition. It can be generalized, affecting large portions of your body, or localized which means that it is concentrated in specific areas like your hands and feet, arms, or legs.
The skin on your feet is susceptible to pruritus because your feet regularly withstand extreme temperatures, direct contact with irritants, and moisture-rich shoe environments. Exposure to stress or irritants can trigger you to develop dry, itchy feet, or lead you to develop fungal infections and rashes that increase the urge to scratch.
Most of the time, irritated or itchy skin is not worrisome, but occasionally can be a symptom of a more serious underlying medical condition. If you are experiencing intensely irritated feet, itchy feet at night that impacts sleep, the feeling is accompanied by a rash, bumps, or blisters, or if it persists for more than two weeks, you may have a medical condition that requires treatment.
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What Causes Itchy Feet?
Having itchy feet is a common ailment that ranges from mildly irritating to chronic and severe.
There are several reasons why your feet may feel itchy. Your feet are subjected to daily physical stress that can cause your skin to feel dry, irritated, and itchy. These daily stressors can make your feet more prone to developing parasitic, fungal, and viral infections that can make your feet feel itchy, too.
Aside from daily stress, there are also certain medical conditions that can lead you to develop itchy feet. If you are experiencing distractingly itchy feet, an itch that will not go away, or if you develop a rash, blisters or bumps that itch, you should make an appointment with your doctor to see if you need further medical treatment.
Conditions that can cause itchy feet
Dry skin: If you have itchy hands and feet, and red or flaky skin—not a rash—the culprit may be dry skin. When your skin is dry, it can get irritated, scaly, and itchy. If you suspect you have dry skin and want to avoid itchy feet after you shower or bathe, consider moisturizing right away to lock in hydration and improve your skin’s condition.
Hormonal fluctuations: Itchy hands and feet at night can be a symptom of naturally-occurring estrogen fluctuations in women who are undergoing menopause.
Scars: When patients experience skin injuries, their nerve endings can be damaged. As skin and nerves begin to heal, the process can trigger a sensitive or itchy feeling around or on top of the scar.
Allergies: When your body comes into contact with an irritant, it can lead you to develop contact dermatitis, a rash of itchy bumps on whatever area of skin has come into contact with an allergen.
Insect bites and parasites: Red, itchy bumps on your feet could indicate that you have been bitten by an insect or (more rarely) have a parasitic infestation.
Athlete’s foot: Itchy, burning feet can sometimes be from tinea pedis—otherwise known as athlete’s foot—a common but uncomfortable fungal infection that spreads in moisture-rich environments like locker room floors and wet grass.
Psoriasis: If you have psoriasis, you can develop red, scaly, itchy skin all over your body, including the feet, toes, and ankles.
Eczema: Atopic dermatitis, often called eczema, is an umbrella term for skin conditions that lead to red, inflamed, irritated, and itchy skin.
Pruritus gravidarum: Itchy palms and feet during pregnancy could indicate pruritus gravidarum, a condition caused by the obstruction of bile from the liver. If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about ways to treat your itchy feet. Depending on the cause of your symptoms, topical creams and oral medications may be available to help you manage your discomfort.
Liver and kidney disease: Itchy soles of the feet is a symptom of primary biliary cirrhosis, a long-term liver disease. If you have advanced chronic kidney disease, you may experience severely itchy skin, among other symptoms.
Thyroid disorders: Skin that is dry and itchy can be an indication of thyroid disease. Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease, among other conditions, may cause you to develop itchy skin and other symptoms.
Nerve disorders: Peripheral neuropathy, a condition that is often caused by diabetes, and other nerve disorders may increase the sensation of itchy feet or hands at night.
Mental health disorders: If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, you may feel an increased urge to scratch as a result of your illness.
Cancer: Certain cancers, including leukemias, lymphomas, gallbladder cancer, and liver cancer may cause a feeling of itchiness.
Signs and Symptoms of Itchy Feet
There are a variety of terms people used to describe the sensation of itchy feet. Some describe the feeling as crawling, tickling, dry, or uncomfortable, and many find that it triggers the reflex to scratch. Scratching is natural and may temporarily relieve symptoms, but it is not a long-term solution. Intense scratching can exacerbate certain conditions or lead to secondary bacterial infections that require treatment.
Itchy Feet: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis
Your feet are prone to being itchy since they tend to be in sweaty situations and in various types of footwear. Although itchy feet aren’t usually a cause for concern, they can be a sign of an underlying condition or deeper internal disease. We’ll explain possible causes of itchy feet and how to treat and prevent them.
What Causes Itchy Feet and How to Treat Them
Medically reviewed by J. Keith Fisher, MD — Written by Rachel Nall, MSN, CRNA — Updated on October 2, 2019
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Pruritus is the medical term for itchiness caused by an irritating sensation on your skin that makes you want to scratch. This can occur anywhere on your skin.
Your feet are especially vulnerable because they tend to be placed in sweaty situations with various types of footwear. Many situations can lead to itchy feet, including exposure to:
dry environments that lead to dry skin
irritants, when walking barefoot
infectious bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi
Although itchy feet are not usually a cause for concern, they can indicate an underlying skin condition or even a deeper internal disease. Understanding what symptoms you should and should not be worried about can help you find relief from worry.
What causes itchy feet?
Itchy feet may stem from a number of causes, including:
Foot itch caused by a medical condition may be related to an increase in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. For this reason, your doctor might prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication to treat itchiness.
Medical conditions that cause itchy feet include:
cholestasis, which is decreased forward flow of bile through the biliary tree
peripheral neuropathy, a condition commonly associated with diabetes mellitus
polycythemia rubra vera
thyroid gland disease
pruritus gravidarum during pregnancy (it may or may not have accompanying cholestasis)
Skin conditions that cause the feet to itch include:
allergic contact dermatitis, which can be caused by something like new laundry detergent
athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis (fungal infection)
juvenile plantar dermatosis
psoriasis scars bug bites dry skin
pest infestations, such as lice or scabies
Exposure to irritants
An irritant can be any substance that causes a reaction in or on your body. They can even be medications or topical ointments that you use to treat other conditions.
Medications known to cause body and feet itchiness include opioids or narcotics, such as morphine sulfate, ACE inhibitors, and statins.
What are the symptoms and signs of itchy feet?
Itchy feet will make you want to scratch your skin. Changes to your skin may accompany the itchy sensation. Examples of skin changes are:
blisters cracked, open areas
dry, scale-like plaques
itching rash redness swelling white spots
It’s also possible for your feet to itch with no accompanying physical skin surface changes.
When to seek medical help
See your doctor if your itchy feet don’t improve with home care or if your symptoms get worse with time.
Your doctor will take a thorough medical history and conduct a physical exam to diagnose itchy feet causes. The questions they might ask you include:
Have you recently started taking any new medications?
Have you been exposed to any potential irritants?
Do you have any chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes mellitus or eczema?
Have any family members, friends, or teammates recently experienced any skin-related concerns?
If necessary, your doctor can perform tests including:
skin scraping culture biopsy blood tests
Some tests can check areas in or on top of your skin for the presence of germs, such as a fungus.
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How are itchy feet treated?
Your doctor will treat itchy feet according to the cause. For allergic reactions, avoiding the product or products causing the allergic reaction can help to reduce itchiness.
Treatments that may relieve itchy feet include the following:
An H1-blocker antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), may help relieve itchiness. Antihistamines can have sedative and other unexpected side effects. Older adults may need to avoid using them.
If you have athlete’s foot, antifungal sprays or creams may help. Chronic fungal infections may require a doctor-prescribed antifungal treatment.
Topical anti-itch medication, emollients like petrolatum, and steroid creams may help reduce itching localized on the skin surface.
Additionally, prescription medications like SSRIs, gabapentin, or tricyclic antidepressants may be beneficial in certain patients.
How can I prevent itchy feet?
Good foot care habits can help reduce itchy feet and prevent some causes, such as a fungal infection. This includes always wearing waterproof shoes, such as flip-flops, in shared shower facilities or gym floors. You can also use these foot care measures:
refrain from putting on shoes and socks until your feet are completely dry
wash your feet regularly with mild soap, paying careful attention to the areas between your toes and applying moisturizer after you finish bathing
wear cotton or wool socks
wear shoes that are well-ventilated, such as those with mesh holes that help the feet stay dry