Foot and ankle rash treatment looks to reduce skin irritation, inflammation and itching.
Effective treatment for foot rashes will depend on the underlying cause and the severity of the rash.
The most common causes of a rash on the feet or ankles are contact dermatitis, eczema, infections and conditions such as psoriasis.
Here we will look at the best treatments for toe, foot and ankle rashes, how they work, what conditions they are most effective for and the possible side effects.
A foot or ankle rash is usually caused by either:
The most common cause of a foot or ankle rash is an allergic reaction, known as Dermatitis. Foot rash dermatitis typically falls into three categories:
The most common infection causing foot rashes is:
Certain medical condition can result in a foot or ankle rash including Psoriasis, Lyme Disease, Hand, Foot & Mouth disease, Chicken Pox and Shingles.
RELATED ARTICLE: Common Causes of Ankle & Foot Rashes
Effective foot and ankle rash treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the foot or ankle rash and typically includes:
Let's have a look at how they each work, how to use them and the possible side effects.
Topical corticosteroids are a popular choice of foot and ankle rash treatment.
Applied directly to the skin, topical corticosteroids reduce inflammation and irritation from allergic skin reactions, making the foot less red and itchy.
Topical corticosteroids are available in various different forms including:
Topical corticosteroids are available in a range of strengths or potencies depending on the severity of your foot or ankle rash:
They are not particularly imaginatively named classifications but they are easy to understand!
Mild topical corticosteroids are usually available over the counter from a pharmacist but anything stronger will require a prescription. You should always use the lowest potency corticosteroid that is effective for your foot or ankle rash.
It is important to be aware that topical corticosteroids will not cure the underlying problem and foot and ankle rash symptoms may flare-up when treatment is discontinued. However, they can provide excellent symptomatic relief of inflammation and itching and help control the problem, making them a very important part of foot and ankle rash treatment.
Topical corticosteroids may also contain another active ingredient, anti-microbials, for treating bacterial or fungal infections such as infected Eczema or Athlete’s Foot.
Anti-microbials are typically applied two to three times daily for a short period, usually 5-7 days, as part of the foot or ankle rash treatment. Longer-term use is not advised as it can lead to antimicrobial resistance.
Most topical steroids only need to be used once or twice a day for foot or ankle rash treatment.
To apply topical corticosteroids effectively for foot or ankle rashes:
Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Trust in London, UK has produced a really helpful video on how to use topical corticosteroids.
It's definitely worth a watch!
Topical corticosteroid dosage is measured in Finger Tip Units "FTU", the distance from the last finger crease to the finger tip on your index finger.
when applied correctly 1 FTU covers approximately the same area as two hands laid flat with the fingers together, leaving a thin, glistening layer over the applied area. Thinner areas of skin such as eyelids will require less cream or ointment than thicker areas such as the soles of the feet.
Typical dosages when using topical corticosteroids for rashes are:
Child aged 4 years: should use approximately 1/3 of the adult amount
Infant 6 months to 1 year: should use approximately 1/4 of the adult amount
When used correctly, there are very few side effects from using topical corticosteroids for foot and ankle rash treatment. The most common side effect is a temporary stinging or burning sensation when applied, but that usually settles as your skin gets used to the treatment.
Side effects are more likely when using a more potent corticosteroid or with long term use (more than one to two months of continuous use) and typically affect young children and the elderly.
Side effects of topical corticosteroid used for foot rashes include:
Oral anti-histamines are really helpful for treating itchy foot rashes and are usually available over the counter without a prescription.
Anti-histamines work particularly well for allergic contact dermatitis and eczema where the skin mistakes harmless substances such as pollen as potential harmful. The skin responds by producing histamine, an immune system protein.
Anti-histamines are a great way to reduce the itching and scratching cycle and when discomfort is interfering with daily life.
Oral anti-histamines fall in to two categories:
First generation antihistamines are particularly useful if itching and discomfort is affecting your sleep, a common problem with eczema. Care should be taken though, particularly if you take them during the day due to their sedating affect.
Possible side-effects of anti-histamines for foot and ankle rashes include:
Topical anti-fungals are used for foot and ankle rashes caused by fungal infections such as athletes foot. They either:
Anti-fungals are available in different forms for treating foot and ankle rashes, the most commonly used being creams, ointments or sprays. Your doctor may advise using both an anti-fungal to clear the infection and a mild corticosteroid to reduce the inflammation.
Anti-fungals for foot rashes can be bought over the counter and there are a huge range of options out there such as Lamisil, Daktarin & Sporanox.
For those stubborn foot rashes, you may need prescription-strength foot medication from your doctor, typically recommended if:
The side effects of topical anti-fungal foot and ankle rash treatments tend to be mild and include:
Good foot hygiene is also an important factor in foot and ankle rash treatment.
There are some other simple things that you can try as part of your foot or ankle rash treatment:
For foot or ankle rash treatment to be effective, it is really important to know what is causing the foot rash so that you can treat it effectively so talk to your doctor.
You can find out loads more about the possible causes and how to tell the difference between them in the Foot Rash section.
Page Last Updated: September 16, 2020
Next Review Due: September 16, 2022