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What Are the Causes of Itchy Swollen Feet?

By Gregory Hanson
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Itchy swollen feet can be caused by many different ailments and conditions, including joint disorders, allergies, skin conditions, topical irritation or infection. The simplest causes of itchy, swollen feet are often those related to standing or walking for a long time, or wearing ill-fitting or wet shoes.

Feet may become itchy and swollen as a result of excessive exercise, poor circulation, overly tight footwear, or a number of other reasons. Fluid can build up in the feet, and itching may result from contact between the feet and shoes or socks. This type of itching and swelling is common, but will normally disappear once the physical irritation has stopped.

An allergic reaction can also cause itchy and swollen feet. Localized allergies may be caused by any number of substances, ranging from poison ivy to different sorts of synthetic products and chemicals. A local allergic reaction can typically be treated with antihistamines and should subside fairly quickly once the allergen has been removed. This type of allergic reaction can be difficult to identify, as symptoms often appear many hours after the feet are exposed to an allergen. Itching and swelling may also result from a systemic allergic reaction, which affects the entire body.

Several skin conditions may affect the feet and produce both itching and swelling. Eczema develops relatively frequently in the feet and is often caused by an allergic reaction, although some forms, such as gravitational eczema, are caused by circulatory problems. Itching is typically the first symptom of eczema to appear and may be accompanied by swelling, sometimes in the form of blisters.

Joint conditions can also cause itchy, swollen feet. Gout is particularly likely to cause swelling, first of a toe, and then later of larger portions of the feet. Itching typically comes later in the process, often toward the end of a bout of gout.

Itchy and swollen feet may be caused by skin infections as well. A bacterial infection, either at the surface of the skin or at the site of a wound may cause itching and swelling. Fungal infections of the skin are common and can also cause these symptoms. These infections are especially common in hot and humid conditions and can be spread fairly easily in public spaces. Skin infections are typically easy to treat in men and women with healthy immune systems.

Many other medical conditions, some serious, can cause swelling of the feet. This swelling, in turn, may lead to itching. Medical attention should be sought for any unfamiliar or alarming symptoms.

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Discussion Comments

By anon963234 — On Jul 28, 2014

Very helpful article and helped me determine my problem. Thank you for the brief write up.

By anon307939 — On Dec 08, 2012

My feet itch when it gets a bit warm during the day. I normally used to wear socks with sneakers but this increased the itching, yet I can't work barefooted. I stopped wearing them, although they still itch with change in temperature.

By lighth0se33 — On Aug 03, 2012

I get itchy and swollen feet if I wear sneakers and socks in the hot summertime. I tend to sweat a lot, and that moist, hot environment just makes my feet itch so badly.

I usually only wear socks and sneakers if I am going for a walk right after it has rained. My grass will be wet, and I hate getting my feet wet, so I don't wear my sandals after a rain.

I walk for exercise, so I generate body heat. That makes my feet swell a bit, and by the time I am through walking, I am so ready to remove my sneakers and scratch the tops of my feet. There is nothing quite so gratifying as being able to finally scratch an itchy foot that has been bothering you for half an hour or so!

By OeKc05 — On Aug 02, 2012

I used to get swollen feet and ankles every time I would wear flip-flops. I suppose they didn't offer adequate support for my feet, and this affected my circulation.

I first noticed the swelling after my feet began to itch one day at work. I bent over to scratch them, and I saw that my ankles and feet were much bigger than their normal size.

I did have high blood pressure at the time, and once I started taking medication for this, I stopped getting swollen feet, even when I did throw on flip-flops for a short while. I don't know if the itching was related to the swelling, or if I just coincidentally had an itch that day.

By Kristee — On Aug 02, 2012

@DylanB – I would hate to be stung by a jellyfish on the foot! That would make it hard to wear shoes or even walk at all!

I have had my feet covered in bug bites before, and this made it hard to even wear flip-flops. I had been walking through the woods near a lake on a summer evening, and mosquitoes were everywhere. I didn't have any insect repellant on, so they feasted upon me.

They seemed to prefer my feet, for some reason. I had swollen, itchy feet for the rest of the weekend. All I could do was apply the aloe vera gel that I had brought along in case of sunburn, and while it did cool the burning and soothe the itching a little, it didn't do much for the swelling.

By DylanB — On Aug 01, 2012

I had itchy and swollen feet after getting stung by a jellyfish. At first, there was just extreme pain and pink streaks across my feet where the tentacles had hit, but later on that day, the swelling began.

I suppose I must have had an allergic reaction to the sting. My friends also got stung, but they didn't swell like that.

I took a couple of antihistamines and rubbed some antihistamine cream on the area. The swelling went down overnight.

I later learned that if I had applied baking soda to the area right after it happened, I could have neutralized the poison. Then, my feet probably would not have swelled.

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