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Harvard Medical School
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General Medical Questions
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Question : I went outside three times this summer with shoes and socks. The next day, my feet were swollen, itched unbearably, and were very red. It took almost a month (no treatment other than topical) for this condition to go away. What could it be?
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The Trusted Source
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Rebecca Campen, M.D., J.D., is an assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School. She divides her time between clinical practice of dermatology at the Massachusetts General Hospital and private practice in Savannah, Ga.

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October 16, 2013
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Swollen, itchy feet can be caused by many things. One common cause is fungal infection (“athlete’s foot”). This appears as red, scaling, itching areas between the toes and on the bottom and sides of the feet. The damp, moist environment from sweaty feet in shoes creates an environment that is fungus friendly. You can treat this condition with over-the-counter antifungal cream. But treatment may be necessary for three or four weeks.

Swollen, itchy feet can also be caused by certain bacteria, which also like the warm, damp environment of a sweaty foot in sock and shoe. These bacteria often cause the foot to peel and smell bad. Your doctor can prescribe a topical antibiotic to treat this condition.

For good foot care in general, keep your feet as clean and dry as possible. When wearing tennis shoes, it is important to wear cotton or wool socks that wick away moisture. Inspect your feet often.

For any condition that doesn’t clear, see your doctor. He or she can diagnose the problem and prescribe medicine to help.

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