Are your peeling feet causing you concern? Your feet are sensitive soles, which means there are a number of reasons that your skin isn’t as soft as it should be. Put your feet up and read on to discover the most common causes of peeling feet and how to treat it.
1. You could have a fungal infection
The most common cause of peeling feet is usually down to a fungal infection (like athlete's foot). Athlete’s foot — also called tinea pedis — is a contagious fungal infection that affects the skin on the feet.
It usually begins between the toes, but it can also spread to the toenails and hands. It’s quite common amongst athletes — hence the name — as the fungal infection spreads when feet are sweaty and confined in tight-fitting shoes.
Usually the infection shows up as a red, scaly rash that can often come with an itching, stinging and burning sensation, but it can also show up as peeling skin, that start off as blisters in the arch or saturated skin between the toes.
It’s not a serious condition, but sometimes it can be hard to cure, and because it’s contagious, it can spread via contaminated floors, towels or clothing.
How do you treat athlete’s foot?
2. Your feet are too sweaty
You’re more likely to sweat if you exercise regularly, and that can often spread down to your feet and toes. If your feet are often sweaty, it may cause irritation, redness, and peeling of the skin. Top that with sharing yoga mats in hot, moist environments and it’s a breeding ground for bacteria and fungal infections!
How do you stop feet from sweating?
To stop them from sweating and prevent bacteria from spreading, wash your feet regularly and use a deodorising shoe spray and foot powder to kill fungi and bacteria.
It’s also a good idea to wear cotton sports socks that are designed to absorb moisture, and have a spare pair of workout shoes so you can swap between the two.
Odor Eaters Foot & Shoe Powder 100g
Dermaveen Sensitive Relief Soap Free Wash 250mL
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser 250mL
3. You have dry skin
When your skin is too dry, particularly on the feet, it can be prone to peeling. Unlike other parts of the body, the skin on the feet is naturally dry as it has no oil glands, so it doesn’t produce enough sebum to keep it moisturised and hydrated. Instead, it relies on thousands of sweat glands to keep it moisturised.
Dry skin on the feet is common for a lot of people — especially during winter, if you crank the air conditioning up, or over expose your skin to hot water — but it can become a lot worse and cause the skin to peel if you don’t moisturise regularly, wear inappropriate shoes and/or have poor foot hygiene.
How do you treat dry skin on your feet?
Exfoliate dry and dead skin regularly and invest in a specialised, hydrating foot treatment that specifically targets dry and cracked skin. You need to keep your feet extra moisturised to avoid any hint of dryness, so you should try and moisturise at least once a day.
DU'IT Foot & Heel Balm Plus Foot Cream 50g
Dermal Therapy Heel Balm 50g
Hamilton Skin Therapy Urederm Cream 100g
4. You could have eczema
Eczema is a disease of the immune system which affects the ability of the skin barrier to protect against outside irritants and allergens, making it easier for those irritants to penetrate into the skin. It can cause peeling, itching, and dryness all over the body, including your feet.
Eczema patches appear mostly as areas of rough, dry skin that sometimes swells, cracks, and even oozes fluid, but it can also cause redness, swelling and an intense itch.
How do you treat eczema?
Most eczema can be cleared with topical treatments, but the treatment depends on how severe it is. You’ll need to get a diagnosis from your doctor first, and they’ll advise you on the best treatment.
For mild to moderate cases, use topical corticosteroids to control inflammation, and an emollient on your skin to avoid drying out your skin even more.
Steroid creams can also help treat bad flare ups, but shouldn’t be used constantly. In extremely severe cases, immunosuppressant drugs are prescribed. If you’re worried you could have eczema, visit your GP for a full diagnosis.
Ego QV Dermcare Eczema Daily Wash 350mL
Ego Pinetarsol Soap Free Gel 450g
Hope's Relief Premium Eczema Cream 60g
5. You could have psoriasis
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that can cause red flaking patches of skin all over the body, and commonly on the soles of the feet. These patches are caused by an overgrowth of skin cells — normal skin cells completely grow and shed within a month. With psoriasis, skin cells do this in just three or four days. Instead of shedding, the skin cells build up into silvery-white scales on the surface of the skin. The skin, as a result, becomes inflamed and red, and often accompanied by painful, pus-filled blisters.
How do you treat psoriasis?
There’s currently no cure for psoriasis, but a dermatologist will usually prescribe topical treatments (creams and ointments) that aim to reduce inflammation and scales, slow the growth of skin cells, and remove plaques (the silvery skin build-up of dead skin cells). Thick moisturisers or Vaseline petroleum jelly are often recommended, and if you have psoriasis on your feet, you should apply before you go to bed underneath socks, then leave on overnight.
Dermal Therapy Psoriasis Cream 60g
MooGoo Eczema & Psoriasis Cream 120g
Ego Pinetarsol Soap Free Gel 450g
6. You could be allergic to something
Sometimes your skin can react to an allergen (or irritant) that it’s come into contact with. This can cause a number of symptoms including include a rash, swelling, inflammation, blisters, itching and burning.
Peeling can often follow after an allergic reaction, as the skin has been damaged. Common allergens include jewellery metals (like nickel), cosmetic products, plants, medications, fragrances and irritants like preservatives, detergents, soap, cleaners and acid.
What’s the treatment for allergies?
If you think you could be allergic or sensitive to something, the best course of action is to work out what allergen or irritant is causing the reaction, then try to avoid it. It’s best to visit your GP if you are worried. Your doctor may refer you to a dermatologist (skin specialist) or immunologist (allergy specialist) for further tests.
7. Your feet could be sunburnt
Ever gone to the beach only to find when you come home your feet are red raw? You’re not the person to forget to put SPF on your feet, and you won’t be the last!
How do you treat sunburn?
To avoid it happening again, make sure you wear SPF30 sunscreen (at least), and keep topping it it up every couple couple of hours to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
If you do find your feet are a little red and start to peel, apply some cooling after sun or aloe vera gel to the affected areas once a day, as well as a hydrating cream like coco butter or coconut oil twice a day. You can also try soaking your feet in Epsom salts and warm water.
Cancer Council Ultra Sunscreen SPF50+ 200mL
Banana Boat Aloe Mist After Sun Spray 250mL
Thursday Plantation Aloe Vera Gel 100g
8. You’re wearing the wrong shoes
Love wearing heels or strappy shoes in summer? Snug footwear can cause some serious friction on your skin. When your shoes rub uncomfortably on your feet they can cause blisters, which can also result in scaling or peeling of the skin. Try not to wear your shoes for too long, and If you start to feel any rubbing, switch to another shoe.
Sweaty shoes are also a big no-no. Athlete’s foot can develop on your feet if they get too warm or sweaty, so if your shoes aren’t well ventilated or your socks don’t absorb moisture well then you’re at risk of developing an infection.
What’s the solution?
If you have blisters, you can cover them with blister plasters to prevent any further rubbing. Or you can pop a plaster on before you put your shoes on, that way it could help minimise the friction.
If your shoes are making your feet too hot, change them! Especially trainers. If you’re working out in the same pair of trainers every day, you’ll need to give them a wash. Have a spare pair on hand to keep your feet fresh, clean and sweet-free.
Stratamed Advanced Wound Dressing 5g
Allevyn Thin 6cm x 5cm 3 Pack
Thursday Plantation Healing Balm 30g