Skin Peeling Between the Toes: What It Means
Many people experience skin peeling between their toes, and it is often accompanied by other symptoms such as itching or the formation of blisters. Sometimes it’s simply cases of the skin turning white and peeling away to reveal new skin underneath.
The feet take a lot of wear and tear, which can lead to occasional peeling. However, it can sometimes be a sign of an infection or skin condition such as:
Shoe Contact Dermatitis
Shoes are made from a variety of materials including adhesives, rubber, and dyes and sometimes, these materials can irritate the feet, and if irritated, it may become flaky and peel. Many shoes use rubber with other materials that prevent the feet from breathing properly, trapping the heat and moisture between the toes which results to itching, redness, peeling, and sometimes, blisters.
This is one of the most common reasons for skin peeling between the toes. Despite its name, you do not have to be an athlete to get athlete’s foot, because anyone can get it. It is actually caused by a fungus called Trichophyton. It is usually present on the skin and does not cause any harm. However, it thrives in warm, moist areas such as locker rooms, showers, and public pools, and even in shoes. Peeling between the toes often starts with smaller toes before it spreads. It can also be spread from one person to another, through direct contact or from contaminated surfaces.
Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the tissues under the skin. This happens when bacteria enters the skin through scrapes and cuts, which potentially leads to an infection in the deeper layers. Symptoms include swelling, pain, warm skin, redness, and blisters.
Trench foot, or immersion foot, is caused by prolonged exposure to damp, cold conditions. It can cause blisters, erythema, or redness, and skin that peels. Those who wear rubber and insulated boots regularly are more prone to get trench foot.
According to the National Eczema Association, dyshidrotic eczema is most common in adults from 20 to 40 years old. It causes itchy blisters on the fingers, toes, and the soles of the feet, which can last for several weeks. It is associated with seasonal allergies and high stress levels and tends to occur during the spring.
There are several forms of psoriasis, and some lead to the peeling of the skin between the toes. It can be triggered by several factors including stress, strep throat infection, and certain medications.
Treatment for skin peeling between the toes depends on the cause. If it is caused by an infection, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics. Topical medications that contain hydrocortisone to reduce pain and itching may be prescribed by the doctor. If it is caused by a fungal infection, over-the-counter antifungal creams are available, but stronger ones require prescription. Cool compress and applying barrier cream between the toes before wearing shoes may help reduce friction.
There are several things you can do to help prevent skin between the toes from peeling:
- Wear thick socks when the weather is cold, or cotton socks, which are gentler than regular socks
- Wear slippers or sandals when walking around locker rooms or public pool areas
- Keep the toes as dry as possible
- Never share socks with other people
- Avoid shoes that are too tight
- Make sure that your shoes are completely dry before putting them on
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