Dry Skin on Feet

12 Reasons for Dry Skin Between My Toes (That’s NOT Itchy)!

It’s not unusual for the dry skin between your toes to peel. But, when peeling skin is not accompanied by itching it could be a sign of an underlying skin complaint.

Skin peeling between toes (and no itch) is typically the result of a skin infection, allergic reaction, syndrome, and disease. Otherwise, it is due to an environmental factor.

Peeling skin between your toes may look unsightly, but in the majority of cases, it isn’t really a concern. Furthermore, in most cases, the peeling can be treated easily at home.

Causes of Dry Skin Between My Toes That Don’t Itch

In this guide, we take a look at the various conditions that are often behind the complaint. We will explain the symptoms for each condition, how it is caused and how you can treat it.

1) Toe Box Dermatitis

Your feet have around 250,000 sweat glands. They secrete a lot of perspiration when they are confined to shoes all day. When your feet sweat, the air and moisture can cause your skin to become overly dry. Subsequently, they develop bacteria commonly known as dermatitis.

There are several types of dermatitis. A common cause of peeling feet is toe box dermatitis which is caused by the rubber toe boxes of shoes. The condition usually starts with the skin peeling on your big toe and causes irritation. If left untreated, it will spread to your upper foot and could lead to an infection.

What Are the Symptoms?

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Blisters of cracks
  • Burning

How Can It Be Treated?

Over-the-counter creams and ointments should clear up toe box dermatitis. Ask your pharmacist for a skin cream that contains topical steroids that control redness and swelling.

Toe box dermatitis is typically the result of an allergic reaction to the chemicals used by shoe manufacturers. Remove the cause, and you will fix the complaint.

If you have sensitive skin to a particular pair of shoes, change or adapt your shoes. However, this can be expensive if you keep breaking out in dermatitis.

Other preventative options are as follows:

  • Sterilize and dry your shoes after every use
  • Insert absorbent cushions or insoles
  • Wear thick woolen socks or other moisture-wicking material
  • Avoid wearing shoes with rubber toe boxes
  • Take a topical medicine

2) Shoe Contact Dermatitis

Shoes can cause you to develop skin peeling on the bottom of your toes or anywhere on your foot. Shoe contact dermatitis defines many skin manifestations on the feet. It is an allergic reaction to substances that are typically used for making shoes. It can appear on your toes, on the sole or sides of your foot or your heel.

The culprit of shoe contact dermatitis are usually shoes, boots or sandals made from leather or rubber, or include chemicals such as paraphenylenediamine and formaldehyde resin from dyes and glues. Metal components such as nickel buckles and cobalt decorations can also cause an allergic reaction when it comes into direct contact with your skin.

What Are the Symptoms?

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Blisters or cracks
  • Burning pain
  • Irritation

How Can It Be Treated?

Because shoe contact dermatitis is typically caused by sensitive skin coming into contact with allergens in shoes, when you remove the allergen or avoid contact, peeling skin on your toes or feet should clear up by itself.

For example, if the offending allergen in a nickel buckle, remove the metal and replace it with another buckle. You may not have to throw your shoes away.

split skin between toes not athlete's foot

There are also over-the-counter creams you can buy to speed up the recovery process or for cases where the infection has spread across a wider area of the foot and is causing you pain.

You can also take preventative action:

  • Clean and dry your shoes after every use
  • Insert absorbent cushions or insoles
  • Wear thick woolen socks or other moisture-wicking material
  • Avoid wearing shoes with rubber toe boxes
  • Take a topical medicine

3) Trench Foot

Trench foot or Non-Freezing Cold Injury (NFCI) is sometimes referred to as First World War foot although historical records reveal the condition was felt in the trenches of the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s.

The condition is caused by prolonged exposure to cold and damp environments. This can be caused by foot immersion in wet places that have poor hygiene or consistent exposure to sweaty socks. It can take less than a day to develop trench foot.

Skin peeling at the bottom of toes is an early warning sign. If you develop numb feet, you may have nerve damage which leads to trench foot.

It can between three to six months to fully recover from trench foot. Proper treatment is required; otherwise you could develop gangrene and potential foot amputation.

What Are the Symptoms?

  • Swelling
  • Numbness or heaviness in the foot
  • Skin discoloration
  • Pain
  • Blisters or ulcers

How Can It Be Treated?

It is crucial that you treat trench foot properly. If the condition is allowed to worsen, the blood vessels constrict and prevent oxygen from getting to the affected area. Subsequently, nerve damage will occur and your feet which could lead to other problems.

  • Clean and dry your feet with an antibacterial agent
  • Keep your feet warm
  • Elevate your foot to enhance blood circulation
  • Take antibiotics if you notice discoloration of the skin
  • Avoid wearing damp shoes or socks
  • Change your socks two or three times a day
  • Talc your feet after washing

4) Cellulitis

Cellulitis is a common bacterial skin infection which can be potentially problematic if left untreated. It occurs when bacteria enter through a break in the skin and can occur anywhere on the body.

The most commonly affected areas are the hands and feet because dry, cracked and flaky skin is more common in these areas. Cellulitis is not contagious unless exposed to broken skin.

There are several causes of cellulitis. An injury is the most common cause. Animal bites and surgical cuts that break the skin can also be an imitation for bacteria to breach a wound.

People that suffer from weakened immune systems such as diabetes, leukemia and HIV/AIDS are also susceptible. Dry, peeling skin conditions and obesity can also increase the likelihood of contracting cellulitis.

What Are the Symptoms?

  • Skin appears red and swollen
  • Painful and warm to the touch
  • Patients may develop a fever
  • Red spots
  • Blisters
  • Dimples in skin

peeling skin between toes no itching

How Can It Be Treated?

If left untreated, or if cellulitis is reoccurring, the infection can spread to your lymph nodes and cause swelling in the affected areas.

In very rare cases, the infection can spread to the deep layer of tissue and get into the bloodstream. At this stage, cellulitis becomes rapidly life-threatening. You should look to treat cellulitis at the earliest possible moment.

In general, cellulitis can easily be treated by:

  • Washing your feet daily with soap and water
  • Apply a cream or ointment such as Vaseline or Polysporin
  • Cover the affected area with a bandage
  • Watch for signs of infection

In cases where the cellulitis is reoccurring or getting to an advanced stage, your doctor will probably prescribe antibiotics to kill the infection.

5) Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a common skin condition that causes skin peeling on the bottom of the toes. The dry flakes of skin are triggered by inflammatory chemicals produced by T-lymphocytes in white blood cells and rapidly proliferates the skin.

Although psoriasis usually affects elbows, knees, and scalp, it can also cause skin peeling between toes and the soles of the feet.

The National Psoriasis Foundation say scientists have not been able to determine the exact cause of psoriasis, but they can confirm that inherited genetics can play a role in its development and people with a weak immune system are susceptible.

When skin cells are infected, the skin cells expands at an abnormally fast rate and causes a buildup of psoriasis lesions. The condition affects people from all walks of life but is most common in 15 to 35-year-olds. Around 15% of children under the age of 10 also have psoriasis.

What Are the Symptoms?

  • Pink or red scaly spots
  • Small bumps may appear on the surface of the skin
  • Skin irritation and some itching may occur
  • Dry, cracked skin
  • Possible fever-like symptoms may be experienced
  • Pus-filled blister

Symptoms of psoriasis in the hands and feet can be triggered by injury. When this happens, it is vital that you take good care of the affected areas as the cracked skin is susceptible to bacterial infections.

How Can It Be Treated?

  • Apply moisturizer overnight
  • Soak your feet in warm water
  • Use cyanoacrylate adhesive to reduce the cracking of the skin
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Protect your feet with thick or padded socks
  • Limit intake of alcohol
  • Stop smoking

6) Dehydration

Skin dehydration is a common problem that can easily creep up on your and go undetected. It can also be confused with dry skin, but they are not the same although both conditions cause skin peeling on toes.

Whereas dry skin is a skin type caused by an inefficient amount of natural oils, dehydrated skin is caused by a lack of water in the skin cells. You need moisture, not oil.

Dehydrated skin is more common in the colder months because your body does not trigger heat mechanisms such as thirst or sweating in cold temperatures in the same way it does when it is hot.

Fortunately, the condition is usually short-lived and easily treated. However, it does cause the skin on the bottom of your toes to peel and can be an irritating inconvenience.

However, if you do not have a sufficient intake of water on a daily basis, you can develop acute dehydration which can have severe consequences on your overall health. Tell-tale signs are dizzy spells, fainting, and fogginess.

What Are the Symptoms?

  • Skin peeling on toes
  • Tightness of skin
  • Sensitive skin
  • Dull, tired appearance and wrinkling

How Can It Be Treated?

Dehydrated skin is thirsty skin. The cells, therefore, need moisture to boost the hydration levels. You need to be very careful which products you choose for treating skin hydration as some ingredients can dry the skin even more.

For example, dehydrated skin typically wrinkles, but anti-wrinkle serum will not rehydrate your skin. It will aggravate it. Skin dehydration is caused by a lack of moisture so needs water-based ingredients together with Vitamin B3 and B5.

why do my feet peel in the summer?

  • Wash with a gentle cleanser and lukewarm water
  • Use skin moisturizers that have water-binding qualities rather than oils
  • Avoid using soap-based products or face scrubs
  • Eat more vegetables
  • Cut out caffeine
  • Stop smoking and drinking alcohol

7) Environmental conditions

Exposure to the elements can lead to peeling skin between the toes and on your feet. Extreme heat and extreme cold is a well-known cause of skin conditions, and over-exposure to windy and sunny weather can also irritate skin.

Spending long periods in specific damp, cold, or hot environments can easily lead to skin peeling off the bottom of your toes. Just about everybody has experienced peeling skin following sunburn for example. That should be an obvious cause.

What Are the Symptoms?

  • Redness
  • Burning or and soreness
  • Excessive dryness
  • Break out of spots

How Can It Be Treated?

Your skin will heal by itself in a few days, but in the meantime apply moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated. To prevent peeling skin on your feet, wear protective creams and the correct clothing.

If you are experiencing burning or soreness, wash your feet in cold water and dab them dry with a soft towel. Avoid exfoliating soaps or trying to force off the dead skin. Allow it to peel naturally and apply moisturizer.

8) Peeling Skin Syndrome

Acral peeling skin syndrome is a rare genetic skin disorder that is usually passed down through the family. Cases of skin peeling between the toes that are due to hereditary causes can be misdiagnosed because they mimic other skin conditions although they are generally not as severe.

There are two main categories of peeling skin disorder, non-inflammatory (type A) and inflammatory (type B). Type A skin disorders produce skin peeling between toe but no itch. Type B disorder is usually accompanied by irritation.

What Are the Symptoms?

  • Painless peeling of skin between toes
  • Possible foot blisters
  • Allergy
  • Eczema of the feet
  • Delayed growth or short height
  • Hair growth that can be easily plucked
  • Severe farsightedness

How Can It Be Treated?

According to rarediseases.info, there is currently no cure for acral peeling skin syndrome. Treatment is centered on preventing damage to the skin and addressing symptoms as they arise.

  • Use emollients to reduce the amount of peeling skin
  • Lance blisters with a sterile needle
  • Dress the infected area with a light dressing
  • Avoid hot temperatures and tight shoes or socks that can cause friction
  • Do not immerse your feet in the water

9) Ritter Disease (Staphylococcal Scalded Skin Syndrome)

Ritter disease is named after Gottfried Ritter von Rittershiem, the first physician to describe the disease.

Today, it is medically known as Staphylococcal Scalded Skin Syndrome (SSSS) and is characterized by blotches of red skin that appear like burns or scalding.

Staphylococcal is a type of bacteria that causes severe skin infections. It gets into the body through cracked skin and releases toxins which cause the skin to blister.

SSSS is very rare and mostly appears in children under the age of 5. One of the symptoms is skin peeling at the bottom of your feet, but it typically affects other parts of the body and shows up across large areas.

What Are the Symptoms?

  • Irritability
  • Tiredness
  • Fever
  • Red, blotchy patches across large areas of skin
  • Fluid-filled blisters
  • Tenderness and pain
  • Peeling skin

How Can It Be Treated?

Treatment for Ritter disease varies. Considerations depend on how well your child responds to certain types of treatment. Antibiotics are usually required to clear the infection, and topical creams are used to protect the skin.

If your child is experiencing pain, mix a dissolvable pain nullifier in with some water. However, you should be careful about giving an infant any medication that may have side-effects or ingredients they could be allergic to.

When Ritter’s disease is treated immediately, the patient usually recovers fairly quickly without scarring or other problems. However, if the infection is not addressed quickly, it could leave its mark.

You should also make sure your child drinks plenty of water. Ritter disease can cause dehydration and cause trauma to the skin that shares characteristics with patients that have suffered from burns.

10) Hand-Foot Syndrome (Palmar-Plantar Erythrodysesthesia)

Cancer patients that experience peeling skin on the bottom of toes without an itch could have hand-foot syndrome. The condition is also known as Plamar-Plantar Erythrodysesthesia.

This rare disease is caused by certain pharmaceutical drugs that are used to treat cancer. Issues can arise if a drug penetrates a blood vessel and damages the surrounding tissue.

You can find a complete list of drugs that have caused hand-foot syndrome on cancer.net.

What Are the Symptoms?

  • Red patches across the skin similar to sunburn
  • Swelling
  • Tingling or burning sensations
  • Sensitive to the touch
  • Skin feels tight
  • Calluses or blisters appear on hands or feet

In severe cases of hand-foot syndrome, patients will experience skin peeling at the bottom of the toes and feet. Walking becomes very uncomfortable, and you may also experience pain.

How Can It Be Treated?

According to OncologyNurseAdvisor, treatment for hand-foot syndrome are primarily anecdotal. However, there are known methods of managing and preventing the condition based on existing evidence-based guidelines.

The management of hand-foot syndrome is mostly focused on managing existing symptoms and taking preventative action to avoid a repeat of a breakout.

skin peeling between toes no itch

Intervention includes modifying the patient’s medicinal cancer treatments and, where necessary, concentrating on lifestyle changes.

Caregivers should also pay attention to not minimizing pain and discomfort, and physicians are asked to educate patients to look out for related symptoms so the problem can be addressed in the early stages.

11) High Fever

Illnesses that cause fever can also lead to skin peeling from the bottom of your feet.

High temperatures make patients sweat more than usual. Perspiration then hangs around the soles of your feet and makes the skin thicker. Blister-like sores can also appear. When they break down, it causes the skin to peel.

Scarlet fever in children is an example of an illness which can cause red skin rashes. According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the breakout is caused by bacteria which release toxins in the skin.

If the rash persists for more than several weeks without being treated, you will notice signs of peeling around the toes and soles of the feet.

12) Reactive Arthritis (Reiter’s Syndrome)

Reiter’s Syndrome is an infection developed by patients with arthritis and typically develops together with conjunctivitis and nonspecific urethritis. It usually occurs after a patient has suffered from a venereal disease or bacterial infection.

The actual causes are unknown, although scientists have found a correlation with infections and immune deficiencies.

Reactive arthritis is typically found in the leg joints, ankles or feet, but can also cause inflammation of the eyes, skin, and urethra. For most patients, symptoms come and go for 12 months.

What Are the Symptoms?

  • Tiny blisters on the bottom of the feet
  • Pain and stiffness
  • Swollen toes and fingers
  • Flaking or peeling of skin on feet
  • Lower back pain
  • Urinary problems
  • Inflammation of eyes, muscles, tendons or ligaments

How Can It Be Treated?

The treatment for reactive arthritis depends on the cause. In cases where the condition was triggered by a bacterial infection, patients are treated with a course of antibiotics.

For patients that are showing signs of stiffness around the joints and muscles, targeted exercises are recommended. A range of motion exercising will help to reduce aching and improve flexibility.

Other treatments include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain
  • Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
  • Topical steroids are used to treat skin rashes

Although peeling between the toes (that does not itch) usually is nothing to worry about, it is always best to air on the side of caution and seek out appropriate treatment. The majority of cases can be self-diagnosed and easily treated with topical treatments from the pharmacist.