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Health Answers

Should I be concerned that the soles of my feet feel itchy all the time?

Email|Print| Text size + By Judy Foreman
February 11, 2008

No. The only time you should worry is if you feel itchy all over your body, not just the soles of your feet, and if this itchiness is nonstop and is not accompanied by a rash, said Dr. Robert Stern, chairman of the department of dermatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. This kind of pervasive itchiness can be associated with an illness such as lymphoma or kidney or liver disease.

Itchy feet can be annoying, though, and can have many causes. Athlete's foot, a fungal infection, is the main culprit. This can be treated by keeping your feet (and socks) clean and dry and use antifungal medications if necessary. The soles of the feet can also get itchy if your feet sweat and you don't let them dry properly, or if you have eczema, an inflammation of the skin. Feet can also get temporarily itchy with changes in temperature - both from hot to cold and vice versa. People with Raynaud's disease, in which cold or emotional stress can trigger discoloration of the extremities, may also get itchy feet.

Occasionally, itchy feet can result from a nerve injury, said Dr. Clifford Saper, chief of neurology at Beth Israel. This can be treated with medications that reduce the frequency of nerve firing, including some anti-epileptic drugs.

Overall, though, itchy feet are a mild hassle, not a serious medical problem.

JUDY FOREMAN

E-mail health questions to foreman@globe.com.

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