In Ask a Dermatologist, Medical Dermatology, Skin Cancer, Skin Care

Medical conditions of the feet are not only unsightly, but they can also be painful and sometimes serious. We often forget about our feet when it comes to skincare, especially in the winter months when they are covered up. Let’s look at common skin conditions of the feet, treatment options and prevention tips.


The most common skin issue of the feet is blisters. Poorly fitting shoes can cause friction that irritates your skin and causes a painful bump or bubble. Other conditions, like eczema or dermatitis, can also cause blisters to develop.

If you develop a blister on your foot, wear a bandage to protect against further irritation. You can prevent blisters by wearing shoes that fit well, even if it means trading high heels for flats.

Athlete’s foot

A common fungal infection of the skin is athlete’s foot. It generally starts in the toe area, where sweat becomes trapped during physical activity. It is not a serious condition, but it can spread to other parts of your foot or your hands. It thrives in damp, warm spots.

Athlete’s foot looks like scaly, white patches of skin between your toes or on the soles of your feet. It is itchy and may sting or burn after you remove your socks.

You can treat it at home by thoroughly washing and drying your feet and applying an over-the-counter antifungal cream or medicated powder daily. Wear breathable socks to prevent moisture from being trapped in the areas between your toes.


Three types of warts may appear on your feet. The common wart is rough and is either flesh-colored or a slightly different color than your skin. If the wart is not painful, no treatment is needed as it will likely go away on its own. Common warts can also develop on your fingers.

Plantar warts are found on the soles of your feet or big toe. They are hard bumps that you can feel when you walk. You can get the virus that causes plantar warts from walking barefoot in public spaces like locker rooms or showers.

Periungual warts grow around your toenail. They start as small, pinhead-sized warts but can grow larger and become painful. If they become too large, they can damage the nailbed.

You can treat warts with over-the-counter ointments or medicated pads, especially those containing salicylic acid.

If your warts are painful or appear to be infected, schedule an appointment with one of our dermatologists for a consultation.


Psoriasis is a scaly, itchy rash that can appear on different areas of your body. It does not have a specific cause, but it is thought to be triggered by an overactive immune system.

Palmoplantar pustular psoriasis specifically affects the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.  It causes painful pus-filled blisters on your feet but is not contagious.

There is no cure for psoriasis, but you can treat the symptoms. Corticosteroid creams can help with itching and inflammation. Medicated creams that contain coal tar can help with scaliness.

If you are being treated for psoriasis in other areas, let your doctor know you have foot-related symptoms.


Triggers like detergents, fragrances or chemicals can irritate the skin on your feet, causing a form of contact dermatitis. If you are allergic to an ingredient in a product, your skin can have an adverse reaction.

Dermatitis can be caused by poison ivy, cleaning chemicals on a shower floor or a new foot lotion. You can also develop a rash from materials in new footwear, especially if you do not wear socks with your shoes. Furthermore, shoes with rubber are a common culprit in dermatitis of the foot.

Treat the condition by eliminating the allergen. You can get over-the-counter creams to help with itchy feet until the condition subsides. Again, consult with your dermatologist if you think you are having an allergic reaction.

Skin cancer

Melanoma usually develops on skin that is overexposed to sunlight, but this type of cancer can also form in places like the bottom of your foot or under your toenails. Most foot skin cancers are related to viruses, chemical exposure or chronic inflammation. Skin cancer is highly treatable if caught quickly, so early skin cancer detection is crucial.

Always include your feet when doing a skin cancer check on your body. Look at the top and sides of your feet, the bottom of each foot (use a mirror if necessary), between your toes and on your toenails.

Melanoma of the foot may appear as a pink spot or growth, a brown or vertical line under the toenail, a sore that has not healed, or a growing mass at the site of a previous injury.

If you find a concerning spot on your feet, make an appointment with a dermatologist. We also recommend regular skin cancer screenings.

Mohs surgery is a treatment for squamous and basal cell carcinomas. Only the affected layers of skin are removed, so it works well for small areas like the feet.

When should I see a doctor about skin conditions of the feet?

Many skin conditions of the feet can be treated at home. If over-the-counter treatments have not helped, you may need a prescription treatment, so see your dermatologist.

In the case of conditions relating to other issues, please inform your doctor of the symptoms you are experiencing on your feet or toenails.

If you suspect an unusual spot or growth on or near your foot or toenail is cancerous, see your dermatologist immediately.

Dermatologists in South Carolina

Our board-certified dermatologists treat skin conditions from head to toe. Contact us to make an appointment at one of our four locations in the Midlands.

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