Why Are My Feet Peeling? Causes and Home Remedies

Medically Reviewed By Amanda Caldwell, MSN, APRN-C
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Peeling on your feet usually happens when your skin is dry. Although it may be uncomfortable, you can easily manage it with creams, home remedies, and medications. While dry skin is a common reason for peeling feet, skin conditions such as eczema, hyperhidrosis, blisters, and athlete’s foot can all contribute to foot peeling.

This article explains what feet peeling is, what may be causing it, and what treatments or home remedies can manage it.

What does it mean if your feet are peeling?

Cropped view of person's bare legs on floor next to swimming pool
Trinette Reed/Stocksy United

Peeling on your feet may simply look like skin shedding off them. It may feel uncomfortable or even painful, particularly if very new skin is exposed underneath.

There are several reasons why your feet may peel, including:

  • having dry skin on your feet
  • skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis
  • wear and tear from physical activity
  • wear and tear from wearing certain shoes

Many scenarios that cause skin peeling on your feet are treatable.

Visit our hub to learn more about skin, hair, and nail health.

What can cause your feet to peel?

If the skin on your feet is peeling, it could be due to several different conditions.

Common causes of feet peeling include:

  • athlete’s foot
  • hyperhidrosis
  • eczema
  • certain medications

Athlete’s foot 

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that usually results from walking barefoot in places such as public baths or showers, swimming pools, and locker rooms.

The fungus that causes athlete’s foot is known as ringworm. This fungus likes to inhabit warm and wet locations and live on objects for extended periods of time. It may cause peeling on your feet.

Treatment for athlete’s foot

If you have athlete’s foot, your dermatologist may recommend an antifungal cream.

If you have a mild case, it may resolve within 2 weeks with the daily application of an over-the-counter cream. For serious cases, your dermatologist may prescribe a stronger cream.

Preventing athlete’s foot

You can help prevent athlete’s foot by:

  • keeping your feet dry and clean
  • keeping your toenails clipped short
  • protecting your feet when using public swimming pools or showers

Eczema

Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that can cause dry, itchy skin, infections, scaly patches, and blisters.

Eczema is a complex condition. Currently, we don’t know an exact cause other than your body or immune system reacting to certain environmental triggers.

There are seven types of eczema, and some may cause your skin or feet to peel.

Treatment for eczema

Treatments for eczema may include:

  • over-the-counter topical or oral medications
  • antihistamines and pain medications
  • topical hydrocortisone
  • medicated shampoos
  • light therapy

You can sometimes prevent eczema flares by being aware of any allergies and reducing your exposure to them. Some ways to prevent eczema flares include:

  • implementing a bathing and moisturizing routine
  • using medication consistently
  • watching closely for signs of skin infections
  • dressing in soft, floaty fabrics and avoiding clothes that itch the skin, such as wool
  • avoiding fabric detergents with allergens
  • learning to cope with stressful situations to avoid flare-ups due to stress

Visit our hub to learn more about eczema.

Medical conditions and medications

Some medical conditions and medications may cause dry skin that leads to feet peeling.

Conditions include:

Medications include:

  • statins, which are often prescribed to help lower cholesterol
  • diuretics, which help rid your body of water and sodium
  • treatments for cancer, such as radiation therapy

Reach out to your doctor about your feet peeling to ensure it’s not being caused by an underlying medical condition or medication you may be taking.

Hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis is a condition in which you sweat excessively, even without physical activity or heat. Consistently wet skin from sweating may result in your feet peeling, particularly the bottoms of your feet.

Treating hyperhidrosis

As hyperhidrosis can sometimes result from an underlying medical condition such as diabetes or gout, your doctor will initially evaluate you for those and treat them first.

Other treatments may include:

  • botulinum toxin injections to help stop excessive sweating
  • prescription medications that temporarily stop sweat glands from working
  • surgically removing sweat glands

Further reasons why your feet are peeling

Other reasons that your feet may be peeling include:

  • exposing your feet regularly to moisture, especially if you work as a fisherman, lifeguard, or swimming instructor
  • not getting enough nutrients in your diet
  • smoking cigarettes, which can expose you to chemicals that age and dry your skin faster
  • getting blisters from wear and tear on your feet due to the movement of shoes

When should you see a doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you experience any signs of eczema, athlete’s foot, or hyperhidrosis. They may be able to provide you with an individualized treatment plan that addresses your medical concerns.

How do you treat peeling feet? 

Your doctor may recommend different creams and medications to help treat the skin peeling on your feet. You may be able to treat mild cases with home remedies and over-the-counter products.

Creams and medications 

Your doctor may recommend the following creams and medications to address foot peeling:

  • corticosteroid creams
  • anticholinergic medication to minimize sweating
  • barrier creams to reduce chafing
  • antifungal creams

You should check with your doctor before starting a new medication, even one that’s over the counter.

Home remedies

You may want to try the following home remedies to reduce the peeling skin on your feet:

  • apply fragrance-free moisturizer after bathing
  • apply a bandage on any blisters
  • wear sunscreen, even on your feet if they will be bare
  • avoid hot tubs
  • avoid spending too much time in hot baths

If these remedies don’t heal your peeling feet, you should schedule an appointment with your dermatologist.

How can you prevent your feet from peeling?

You can try to prevent your feet from peeling by:

  • moisturizing your skin
  • keeping your feet dry and clean
  • bathing in lukewarm water
  • washing clothes in hypoallergenic detergents
  • wearing well-fitted shoes

These recommendations can minimize the chafing, dryness, and excessive sweating that can cause peeling skin on your feet. However, you may not always be able to prevent all peeling if it’s due to an underlying condition.

Summary

Eczema, hyperhidrosis, and athlete’s foot can all cause your feet to peel. Similarly, underlying medical conditions may also cause foot peeling.

If you notice any persistently dry, cracked skin, you should make an appointment with your dermatologist. They may recommend medications, creams, antiperspirants, or moisturizers to heal the skin peeling on your feet.

You can help prevent your feet from peeling by keeping your feet clean and dry and wearing bandages over blisters. Peeling feet are treatable and sometimes even preventable.

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Medical Reviewer: Amanda Caldwell, MSN, APRN-C
Last Review Date: 2022 Oct 21
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.