A foot rash can occur as a result of an allergic reaction or infection. Most types of foot rashes, such as athlete’s foot and contact dermatitis, are treatable with over-the-counter (OTC) medications. However, other types of foot rashes, such as cellulitis may require medical intervention. In this article, we list a few common causes of foot rashes along with their symptoms and treatment options.

Athlete’s foot

Tinea pedis, more commonly known as athlete’s foot, is a highly contagious fungal infection that develops on the feet.

A fungus called Trichophyton causes athlete’s foot. This fungus thrives in warm, moist environments, such as shower floors and the inside of shoes.

Athlete’s foot often leads to itchy, burning skin between the toes. Other symptoms of the condition include:

  • dry, scaly, or cracked skin
  • flushed or raw skin
  • weak, discolored toenails
  • cracked or oozing blisters on the feet


Most people can treat athlete’s foot with an OTC antifungal treatment, usually in the form of an oral tablet or a liquid or cream. More severe infections may require prescription-strength medication.

Topical steroids, such as hydrocortisone, can help reduce inflammation and relieve itching and soreness.

Contact dermatitis


Contact dermatitis is a rash that occurs when a substance irritates the skin or produces an allergic reaction.

Substances that may cause contact dermatitis can include:

  • metals, such as nickel
  • makeup
  • latex
  • frequent washing or contact with water
  • bleach


People can avoid the substance that they think is causing contact dermatitis to see whether their rash clears within 1–3 weeks. Antihistamines and topical corticosteroids may help relieve symptoms.

Poison ivy, oak, or sumac


Poison ivy, oak, and sumac grow in both wooded and marshy areas. These plants produce sap that contains an allergen called urushiol.

Urushiol can trigger an allergic skin reaction called contact dermatitis. About 50–75% of adults in the United States are allergic to urushiol.

Symptoms of a poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash include:

  • flushed, itchy skin
  • bumps or blisters on the skin
  • swollen, tender skin
  • difficulty breathing
  • fever


Poison ivy, oak, and sumac rashes usually clear up by themselves within a few weeks.

If someone believes that they have had exposure to urushiol, they can remove the oils immediately by washing themselves and their clothes with soap and water.

OTC topical treatments, such as calamine lotion and hydrocortisone, can help relieve itching and swelling. A doctor may prescribe an oral antihistamine to lessen the allergic reaction.