Painful Red Skin Rash on Foot

by Ian

Unknown red skin rash on foot (bottom foot) and swollen red foot caused by a bug bite (top foot).

Unknown red skin rash on foot (bottom foot) and swollen red foot caused by a bug bite (top foot).

I first had this skin care problem in the United States about ten years ago when I was 19 years old and football coaching. I thought the skin rash was caused by the new socks and football boots that I had to wear or it could have been caused by stepping on grass that had chemicals applied on it. However, every holiday since then I have had the rash and it is getting worse. Usually by the 3rd to 5th day of the holiday the rash on the foot starts to appear on the skin. I thought that perhaps sand and the skin on my foot rubbing against the flip flop causes the rash to appear but when I was in United States, I was not near any sand. It always seems to happen when I wear flip flops and it is hot. However, I wear flip flops at home around the house all the time with no problem with the foot rash.

One doctor says the problem is that my feet cannot sweat? The foot rash does not itch but it does hurt, like the feeling you get when someone presses on a bruise on your skin. The rash on my foot swells up a bit and sometimes it is painful to walk or put shoes on.

I am travelling in December and I want to be able to fix this foot rash skin problem or prevent it from happening. Does anyone have any ideas as to what this could be? Or does anyone have any ideas what I should be doing to stop the foot rash from appearing or any recommendations for medications to relieve the foot rash? I have included a picture to help with the diagnosis. The bottom foot is the rash on the foot that I have described above. The top foot is red and swollen due to a bug bite and is not the typical red foot rash that I get when on vacation.

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Apr 19, 2022
Same Painful Red Skin Rash on Foot
by: Anonymous

Gents, same darn thing here. My symptoms described almost exactly by others. I almost always get it just on one foot (left) and sometimes my hand after cycling/pull-ups. No shortage of misdiagnoses so far by numerous doctors (athlete's foot, autoimmune diseases, etc.) to no avail. I was worried I might have Erythromelagia (sp?) so finding you guys was actually a bit of a relief; though this "IPH" sounds equally inconclusive. Looks like there is some (1?) research out there for using "colchicine". Anybody end up down this road? Mine get burning/itchy (not like I need to scratch it tho) after a day or so, I have tried hydrocortisone (the jury is still out on this) and ice packs for a bit of soothing. Thanks for putting your stuff out there, I appreciate the solidarity.

Sep 26, 2017
Same Foot Rash, Z-Pak (Azithromycin) Gets Rid of Mine
by: Deanne

Of course, 15 years of urgent care doctors failing to diagnose the problem, but taking a Zpak is the only thing that cures this horrible painful rash.

It is caused by heat and friction. Walking long distances on hot surfaces, sand, wearing flip flops or tennis shoes that rub the bottom of the foot, even putting your foot up to the jet of a Jacuzzi can set off this monster of a painful, hot, swollen foot rash.

Starting normally on one foot in bright red polka dots that are extremely hot to the touch and painful. The redness and swelling will continue to grow and spread to both feet, then up the ankles, making it impossible to walk.

Do not rub and do not submerge in ice water. The best home remedy is to keep the feet elevated and away from heat, out of the sun, and shoes. Crocs makes a flip flop with an arc in the foam of the sole that doesn't rub the soft underside of the foot, which are wonderful during the healing process.

If you catch it early enough, if you take it easy it will go away on its own. But since most of us get this on vacation, hitting the quick care for a Z-Pak the second it starts will save your holiday. Unfortunately, you can't drink while taking Zithromax, but at least you will be able to walk! It will itch like crazy when it is going away.
That is how you will know it's going away.

For what it's worth, I think it is a water-based bacteria that we pick up walking without shoes somewhere on the East coast that just lies dormant until direct contact with extreme heat and friction. Of course, that's just a guess.

Aug 09, 2017
Hot Weather Equals Itchy Red Blotchy Feet
by: KK

I have been getting this since I was 16 on my first trip to Florida, I am from Canada.
Similarities: flip flops, walking on sand, a lot of walking, hot weather, and sometimes flying. It has ruined so many holidays. I am now 43 and I am still suffering.

I have a pool now, so the pain is often disruptive and super itchy. I am so glad that I am not alone. I have had holiday doctors, walk in clinics, and a well respected Ortho-surgeon look at it and NO DIAGNOSIS.

Jul 13, 2017
Similar Foot Rash
by: bwx

I get a similar rash on my feet after prolonged (5-6 hours) walking at a treadmill desk at work - only involves my feet and up to my sock line on my ankles. It is uncomfortable - not itchy, more painful/burning sensation, and tender to touch. Fortunately, it resolves within 1-2 days on its own, but it takes longer to resolve or can reappear even after it resolved if my feet are exposed to heat (hot day, hot shower, etc.) within the few days after it happens. I am a doctor and have no idea what this is! It may be Idiopathic Palmoplantar Hidradenitis, as that looks most consistent with it in my research, but that is typically a disease of children or healthy young people, and I an 45 and it just started happening to me this year. Wish I could help more, but the photo of the bottom foot looks exactly like the rash I get. At least we are not alone.

Jun 11, 2017
Same Foot Rash Problem
by: Irena

I am from Croatia and have the same problem during summer holidays. Ten years ago, I cut my foot on some rock at the beach and this unknown redness appeared that day. After that, every year, because of the sun and hot sand (I think) it appears again and ruins everything.

Mar 15, 2016
Idiopathic Palmoplantar Hidradenitis
by: Angie

Hi guys. I think this is a condition called recurrent idiopathic palmoplantar hidradenitis you are suffering from. It is not clear why this happens but has been associated with all the things you are mentioning.

You may want to pack some Ibuprofen next time you are travelling and keep the feet in the shade or cool them.

Feb 13, 2016
Like Walking on Painful Blisters
by: TLC

I've had the same rash for 25 years. It comes and goes. Initially a doctor said it could be an allergy to sand mite but that I would never be sure. I got it badly yesterday. It was hot and I had enclosed shoes. It is very painful. I sometimes have it on my hands but never as severe or painful as my feet. It's like walking on very painful blisters. Would love to know what it is. I'm in Australia and it's usually during the summer.

Aug 25, 2015
I have the same issue.
by: Dave

Hi, I have the same problem it seems.

I live in Sweden where it's typically only 1-2 months of weather hot enough to trigger this issue. Each summer, I get these sore red spots on the bottom of my feet. The first ones tend to be quite small, but they seem to either grow or get replaced by larger ones as the hot days go by. Darker red than the surrounding skin, a bit flexible to the touch like the tissue under the skin is damaged, but no fluid like with blisters.

Walking barefoot on hard surfaces (and even in some shoes) hurts with every step I take. After a few weeks it typically goes away.

I don't think it is related to allergies or due to travel since it always happen after a few days in hot weather, no matter if it's on a vacation trip in winter or at home in summer.

If anyone has any new insights, I would love to hear!

Apr 07, 2015
Swimmers Itch
by: Sympathetic

Bring fresh water with you to rinse off your feet after the beach or jump in the shower immediately after. It gets worse each time you get it.

Jun 06, 2014
by: Anonymous

Next time anyone gets it. Take photos. In the UK there is a programme called embarrassing bodies and you can email in your photos and the experts tell you what's up.

Jun 06, 2014
None the Wiser
by: Ian

I forgot about this post. To be honest, I haven't had it bad for a while now. I still have no clue what it is or what causes it. I take an anti-inflammatory usually before I go away and while I'm away, I try to stop my feet from getting too hot by having my feet dangling in the pool or sea if I can. Three things I noticed is that it is linked to: heat, holidays, and new socks/shoes.

Keep searching for the answer. I am guessing it will never go and sometimes it can be a total bitch!

Jun 06, 2014
Same Rash After Wearing Sandals
by: Anonymous

I struggle with this rash all summer also. It seems to appear after I start wearing sandals or flip flops. It hurts really bad to walk, like a sharp pain. Sorry I can't help with the cause, but I'm glad to know that I am not alone.

Sep 12, 2013
Extensive Research...
by: Anonymous

Since you are going from colder weather to warmer weather, it could be photosensitive contact dermatitis/eczema or look up chillblains. Let me know if you are able to self-diagnose.

Jul 18, 2013
Looks Like Mild Eczema
by: Anonymous

This looks like mild eczema and I say mild because the pictures of how awful it can be are very disturbing. My son had places like this on the inside of his elbow crooks and backs of his knees. His did look worse when he was hot, or got wet. I'm thinking it is usually allergy related. When you are on vacation, do you eat foods that you never eat at home, like perhaps seafood?

May 28, 2013
Foot Rash
by: Brian

I have had the same rash for more than 15 years and it started at the beginning of the summer when I first started to wear flipflops regularly. It has happened in at least three separate locations. Anyone have an idea what it could be or better yet a treatment.

Nov 30, 2012
Update on Foot Rash
by: Ian

Very strange, I am kind of glad that I'm not the only one getting it. When I travelled for the 1st few weeks I had it. However, thankfully it is not as bad as the picture above which was in Ibiza. The remaining seven months of my trip were all in hot countries and I didn't get it, which was great. However, I am still none the wiser.

It looks like my feet get a shock when I go to hot countries, especially in the first ten days. Once the feet had their trauma event they go back to normal.

I can guarantee however that as soon as I go on my first week of holidays, I will get the painful red skin rash on my feet again and as per usual ruin my holiday. It would be great to get a diagnosis, any dermatologists on here?

All I know is bathing them in cold sea or pool water/ice makes the skin condition better. Let's keep searching lads as this foot rash is very annoying!

Nov 29, 2012
Foot Rash
by: Johhny Jet

I am yet another with the same foot problem. The photos shown are the same as I am experiencing. Does anyone have an answer?

Nov 05, 2012
Foot Rash Travelin Blues
by: Brian in Seattle

My friend, I have what you have and cannot get an answer from any doctor. This is the first picture I have seen that looks like my rash. Your comment about traveling is what really got my attention. Every year since 1986 I have left cold Seattle for a mid winter vacation in warmer climates like Mexico or Hawaii. While I enjoy the heat on these breaks I eventually get the red bloches on my feet that cause embarrassment on the beach or around the pool. It goes away by the time I get home so I began to show doctors on my trips. On a cruise ship I bet the doctor he could not figure it out. He emailed photos to a university but no confirmation. No answer. I can't help but think about the air travel because at home in the warmer summers here I have no problem. I feel for you. What is the answer?

Sep 14, 2012
Same Rash on Foot Problem
by: Anonymous

I went to a fair and walked around all day in flip flops and it was very hot outside. I have the same looking rash on my heels and it's smooth to the touch, doesn't itch, but hurts a lot. It started out feeling like someone was pressing on a bruise just like you said but now it feels more like razor blades digging into the skin whenever I put pressure on my feet. I was wondering if you have been able to get any answers to your rash as to what it might be?

Jan 05, 2012
A similar itchy and painful foot problem.
by: Justin

This morning I woke up and I was fine. I put on a new pair of socks (not washed) and my shoes that I have worn many times and went on about my business. Aboout 3-4 hours later, I started feeling some itching on my feet in my shoes and it was extremely painful. So when I got home and looked at my feet I could not believe what I was seeing. I had swollen red feet with red bumps all over them. I don't know if we have the same thing or not but it looks the same and I am thinking that the cause is the chemicals in the socks that were not washed properly. I could be wrong but I know it is very painful. So my question to you is do you wash your new socks before you put them on? I hope you are feeling better, but my pain has just begun.

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