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Identifying and Treating Rashes on the Feet (Fungal Infections)
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Identifying and Treating Rashes on the Feet

Ronald Vender, MD, FRCPC

Rashes on the feet can occur from a variety of causes, including improper footwear, sweating, allergies, presence of fungus, or sometimes, simply stress. Untreated rashes can lead to bacterial infections, and therefore should be treated immediately. Here are some common causes of rashes, and available treatment options:

Allergic Contact Dermatitis:

Red rashes with small blisters appear at the area of contact, and can be exacerbated during hot weather when the feet sweat. Common sources for allergen are contained in the footwear, such as glues, dyes, and rubbers, or formaldehyde, used as a preservative, or leather tanning products. As allergies are often permanent, proper identification of allergens and strict avoidance of them is required. An allergist or dermatologist can conduct a patch test to identify your allergy. For treatment, the use of corticosteoirds are common, and effective.


Dyshidrosis is characterized by a recurring rash on the fingers or the soles of the feet. Small blisters often form, and are itchy, often becoming dry and fissured as it advances. For more information, visit

Treament options include first and foremost the avoidance of offending irritants or allergens that cause of exacerbate existing rashes. Topical steroids, immunomodulators, or antihistamines are often prescribed to treat dyshidrosis.

Juvenile Plantar Dermatosis:

Known more commonly as sneaker dermatitis, this is a condition common in children with allergies, asthma, or eczema. A rash forms around the toes, is, tender, and inflamed. Sweating aggravates the condition.

Well ventilated shoes should be worn, and socks should be absorbing, or made of cotton to reduce moisture. A mild steroid ointment or cream may be prescribed to treat symptoms. If the skin becomes cracked, tar ointments, petroleum jelly, or zinc paste may be effective.

Pustular Psoriasis:

Pustular psoriasis can affect any part of the body, but is commonly seen on the palms and soles of the feet. Small blisters appear, and then turn brown and scaly. For more information, visit

Treatment options include the use of oral medications such as Soriatane or Trexall, high-intensity UV light, Dovobet, or medium to strong steroid ointments.

Athletes Foot:

Athletes Foot or Tinea Pedis is one of the most common skin problems on the foot. This is caused by a fungus through contact. The fungi prefer warm and moist areas, and are often contracted through the use of gyms, locker rooms, and public showers. Possibly due to increased exposure, athletes foot is more prevalent in men. The fungus can spread from the foot to toe nails, and vice versa. The groin may also become infected. If the feet become infected, it may itch, produce unpleasant odours, and the skin between the foot may crack.

Athletes foot can be cured with proper treatment. Loprox or Lamisil creams are often prescribed for early treatment. For more serious cases, oral medication such as terbinafine may be prescribed by a doctor. Lacquer can be used on the nail, and has an effect on nail infections.

If you develop a persisting rash on your feet, visit your medical provider to seek early identification and treatment.


athletes’ foot,   contact dermatitis,   dyshidrosis,   fungal infections,   juvenile plantar dermatosis,   pustular psoriasis,