Why Are My Feet Peeling 2023: Reason & How To Cure

Reviewed by Brittany Ferri, PhD

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Why Are My Feet Peeling

Peeling skin on the feet is a common phenomenon. It usually comes with symptoms or causes new symptoms. There are many causes of peeling feet, but we have discussed 4, which we believe are very common. To take it further, we have touched upon the different treatments for these conditions. 

You might be thinking when is it appropriate to see the doctor? We have covered this in a reasonable amount of detail, so stay tuned. To finish off we have given our final message and answered some frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Symptoms Of Peeling Feet

There are dozens of symptoms that either cause foot peeling or are side effects.

  • Peeling skin on the feet
  • Itching at the area of skin peeling
  • Stinging sensation around the skin on the feet
  • Burning sensation around the skin on the feet
  • Cracked skin on the feet
  • Dead skin cells on the feet
  • Dry, scaly, and red skin on the feet
  • Foot blisters
  • Itchy Rash
why are my feet peeling

What Causes Feet Peeling?

There are many causes of peeling feet amongst other negative effects on the feet. We have highlighted 4 different causes below.

Athlete’s Foot (Fungal Infection)

Before you jump to conclusions, the athlete’s foot is not exclusive to athletes. The condition is basically a fungal infection that affects the feet. It usually starts in between the toes and spreads around other surfaces like the soles.  

An athlete’s foot generally occurs when one comes into direct contact with a specific fungus[1] that lives in moist environments like gym locker rooms, showers, saunas, swimming pools, etc. The contagious fungus can also be picked up from shared items like footwear, soap, and cleaning cloths. 

Perhaps to your surprise, an athlete’s foot can directly affect an individual from excessive sweating and heat around the feet. Hence why this skin condition is prevalent amongst athletes and ‘gym goers’. 

If you have been affected by this chronic skin condition you may notice.

Dry Skin

Dry skin can cause itchy and scaly skin. Subsequently, an individual would itch the area and then eventually experience foot peeling and flaking skin. Dry feet are usually caused by:

  • Underlying medical conditions- Some medical conditions can cause excessive dehydration which could cause the skin on your feet to dry up and peel.
  • Lack of foot moisturizing- Moisturizing the feet can help keep them hydrated and prevent them from peeling.
  • Hot water exposure on the feet- The heat from the water can damage the skin cells and cause a loss of foot hydration.
  • Hydration status- We are referring to the body’s level of hydration, which affects the skin, including the feet. Another reason to get in the recommended 8 cups of water per day.
  • Prolonged exposure to sun heat- The heat from the sun can also cause damage to the skin and hydration.
  • Stress- As a stress response we can become dehydrated which can affect the skin on the feet.

Atopic Dermatitis

Have you heard of a chronic skin disease called eczema? Atopic dermatitis[2]is a form of eczema that can cause severe peeling of the feet. Generally, it is a genetic condition where the feet become itchy with cracked skin. The condition varies from person to person, but you should always look out for triggers that could be related to the:

  • Diet- Some people are allergic to certain foods like peanuts, fish, eggs, milk, shellfish, etc. These foods may trigger eczema.
  • Fabrics- Fabrics like polyester and nylon are known to trigger eczema in some individuals, so wearing such clothes should be avoided.
  • Heat- some individuals flag up with eczema under hot conditions above 25 degrees C.
  • Certain soaps and exfoliating products- Products that contain dyes and allergens may trigger a bout of eczema, therefore must be avoided.


Another chronic skin disease goes by the name of Psoriasis[3]. Although you may see peeling skin on the soles of the feet, this condition differs from the others as the area becomes lumpy and scaly with a white type of tone. It is known to be caused by an immune system defect in the gene.

Although Psoriasis is a chronic condition, the patches appear and disappear at any given time. From what we know common triggers include:

  • Change in weather- Colder weather is linked to psoriasis.
  • Post-infection flare up- After infection, you may experience a bout of psoriasis from a reduced immune system.
  • Stress-induced skin inflammation- Stress can also affect the immune system which may cause inflammation on the feet.
  • The adverse effect of alcohol- In some people, a flag-up of Psoriasis can come about, especially with excessive amounts of alcohol.


Hyperhidrosis[4] is excessive sweating, which can affect the skin of the feet. Based on my anecdote, this occurred from wearing socks that are too thick, which trap a lot of heat. 

There can also be more severe underlying reasons for excessive sweating like:

  • Cancers
  • Skin infections
  • Bone problems
  • Metabolic Problems
  • HIV
  • Tuberculosis

Treatments For Feet Peeling

We have put together some ideas of how you can treat peeling feet caused by the 4 mentioned conditions.

Treating Athlete’s Foot

To treat peeling skin from an athlete’s foot we are looking at antifungal medication that can be purchased over the counter without a prescription. There are other medications that can be acquired via prescription for more severe conditions.

Treating Dry Skin

Treating dry skin is quite simple. You could:

  • Apply Moisturizers
  • Apply hydrocortisone ointment or cream on the affected skin
  • Stay in high-moisture environments
  • Do not bath or shower in hot water, instead try warm
  • Do not use products that can cause skin irritations

Treating Atopic Dermatitis

You may want to opt for some medical interventions to treat these conditions. These interventions include:

  • Antihistamines
  • Skin-specific steroid cream
  • Immune system medication

Treating Psoriasis

Based on common practice[5], the following treatments may be applied for psoriasis:

  • Ointments and creams intended to be put directly on the skin
  • Ultraviolet light therapy
  • System (oral or injectable)

Treating Hyperhidrosis

If you suffer from Hyperhidrosis, which is causing peeling feet, you could wear minimal clothing[6] around the feet, perhaps some flip-flops. Moreover, you could try foot powders. There is not really much more you can do for this condition.

When You Need To See The Doctor

The treatments that we have mentioned are usually enough, as peeling feet is common and not a very severe condition. However, it may be rational to visit your medical doctor if:

  • The condition does not improve with self-treatment
  • You are a diabetic
  • The area looks infected
  • Inflammation of the feet
  • Severe cases of smell
  • Oozing puss
  • Severe blisters and pain

The doctor then has the authority to prescribe other medication, which can not be purchased over the counter.


All in all, there are many causes for feet peeling. Foot peeling is usually not serious and can be addressed and avoided via simple measures. In the rare occasion, the condition does not subside and symptoms become more severe, you may benefit from visiting a healthcare professional who may prescribe more advanced treatments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Athlete’s foot only happen to athletes?

NO! Athletes foot is common amongst athletes due to the nature of their exercise routine and their surroundings. However, Athlete’s foot can occur from direct contact with a contagious fungus in moist places.

Along with peeling skin on my feet, I have a silver/white patch, what could be the issue?

So a colored scale like that is usually a sign of psoriasis, which is a genetic defect and can flag up at different times throughout the lifespan.

I have been recommended aloe vera for my foot peel, does it work?

Perhaps! Aloe vera can be used on skin conditions as it has anti-inflammatory properties and may help retain hydration around the feet.

In your experience, what is the most common cause of dry skin peeling?

It really depends, but from what I have seen, a lack of moisturizing and hydration status can affect the skin of the body and feet.

At any point do I need to visit a board-certified dermatologist?

If the problem recurs, you may want to visit a dermatologist who may suggest more effective treatments for your condition through physical examination.

What can make Athlete’s foot worse?

I would say sweaty damp socks or sharing items with someone else who happens to have Athlete’s foot.

Can Athlete’s foot be spread in bed?

It sure can! If the bed sheets have been contaminated with the fungus, there is a high possibility that you may get Athlete’s foot.

Any specific hydrocortisone creams I can use for my dry feet?

There are a few that I like to use which include; HC45, Sudocrem, and Canesten.

+ 6 sources

MIDSS adheres to strict procurement guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutes, and medical associations. We work mainly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure the accuracy of the information. We avoid the use of tertiary references. You can read about how we ensure the accuracy and timeliness of our content in our editorial process.

  1. NHS Choices (2023). Athlete’s foot. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/athletes-foot/ [Accessed 30 Jan. 2023].
  2. NHS Choices (2023). Overview – Atopic eczema. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/atopic-eczema/ [Accessed 30 Jan. 2023].
  3. NHS Choices (2023). Symptoms – Psoriasis. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/psoriasis/symptoms/ [Accessed 30 Jan. 2023].
  4. NHS Choices (2023). Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis). [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/excessive-sweating-hyperhidrosis/ [Accessed 30 Jan. 2023].
  5. NHS Choices (2023). Treatment – Psoriasis. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/psoriasis/treatment/ [Accessed 30 Jan. 2023].
  6. NHS Choices (2023). Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis). [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/excessive-sweating-hyperhidrosis/ [Accessed 30 Jan. 2023].


Zaakir Shakoor, Nutritionist
Nutrition, Exercise & Health Specialist/Writer
Zack Shakoor Kayani was born and raised in the South East of England/London. Zack has attained a bolus of knowledge regarding biosciences through academia and his career experiences. In terms of his educational background, he has a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology (Hons.), a Postgraduate diploma in sports nutrition with the International Olympic Committee, and a Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences from Middlesex University. Zack has been fortunate enough to apply his Exercise Science and Nutrition Knowledge to aid Hundreds if not Thousands of Patients and Athletes, providing 1-1 consultation, Personal training, Information sheets, offering recommendations to collate nutrition and exercise programs, etc. Not to mention, in 2022, he authored a book called 'The 'Good' Coach Weight Loss Solution.


Brittany Ferri, PhD
Occupational Therapist, Medical Reviewer
Brittany is the owner of a writing and consulting company called Simplicity of Health. She has written over 350 pieces of patient-facing content, published 4 books, created over 30 continuing education courses, and medically reviewed countless pieces of content for accuracy. Her media appearances include being quoted as a health expert in WebMD, Healthline, NBCNews, and Forbes.