Dermatitis is a skin irritation that can cause a variety of symptoms such as a reddened, swollen rash, skin that is itchy, dry, crusty, flaky, or painful, blisters, or even oozing.
Dermatitis can occur anywhere on the skin with the most common examples being dandruff, eczema, and contact dermatitis-which occurs when the skin has an allergic reaction from direct contact with an irritant.
Contact dermatitis on the feet, sometimes called shoe contact dermatitis, can occur when allergens within the materials in footwear cause an allergic reaction on the skin of the feet. Some of these irritants include chemicals in rubber accelerators used in manufacturing, chromates and formaldehyde used in leather tanning, DMF sachets found in shoe boxes, certain dyes and glues, and buckles or decorative elements make out of metal-particularly nickel and cobalt.
Symptoms of shoe contact dermatitis-such as blisters, burning, itchy, cracked, swollen, red, or painful skin-can present themselves either suddenly or over a longer period of time as the skin has prolonged contact with the allergen. Since these symptoms can be similar to those of atopic dermatitis (eczema), a podiatrist can examine the patient and perform various allergy patch tests to make an accurate diagnosis of the condition as well as determine the possible allergen in the footwear.
If the allergen causing the reaction cannot be removed from the footwear, the patient should stop wearing the shoes. The condition should begin to clear once the skin is not exposed to the aggravating allergen. Either over-the-counter, or prescription topical treatments can help reduce swelling, redness and itching-such as steroids, ointments and creams. Antibiotics may also be necessary for eliminating infection.
A podiatrist may also offer advice on footwear or orthotics, along with other tips, which can help avoid the condition from reoccurring.