Footwear Allergies

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What are Footwear Allergies?

Foot wear allergies are skin rashes manifested as contact dermatitis on and around the feet, including the ankles, under the foot/heels, toes, and upper parts of the legs.

What causes Footwear Allergies?

Allergic reactions occur when the skin comes into contact with allergens found in materials used in the manufacture of various footwear including shoes, sandals, boots, or socks.  Many people are sensitive to different chemicals like formaldehyde, dimethyl fumarate, and chromates used in the manufacture of footwear materials, such as rubber, leather, dyes or glues. Other people may be sensitive metal components, such as buckles made of cobalt or nickel used to decorate shoes, as well as allergens in synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, latex or spandex found in elastic bands used on socks.

Who is at Risk?

Footwear allergies may affect anyone around the world irrespective of age, sex or gender. Continuous exposure to various chemicals found in footwear materials may increase the likelihood of allergies. Typically, people sensitive to other allergens like certain foods, insect bites, or certain drugs are more susceptible to footwear allergies. Children and people with weak immune systems from chronic diseases, such as HIV or other skin infections are more likely to develop footwear allergies.


The most common symptoms of footwear allergens include inflammation, burning sensation, itching, blisters, pain, and cracks in the skin (dermatitis). These skin rashes are often found on the sole of the foot, heels, side of the feet around ankles, and toes. Footwear allergies may spread and affect upper parts of the legs where severe cases, may result in redness, scaly, flaky, thick, and crusty patches skin that sometimes cause sores; thus, increasing the vulnerability to secondary skin infections, such as psoriasis or atopic dermatitis.

Diagnosis and Prevention

Diagnosis of footwear allergies involves skin patch tests to identify the specific allergens found in footwear materials. Blood tests may also be performed to help the dermatologists rule out other potential allergens with similar symptoms associated with footwear dermatitis, such as bacterial skin infections, lichen planus, or psoriasis. Since there no available cure for footwear allergies, antibiotic medications and topical corticosteroid creams or ointments may be prescribed to control itching, redness, or prevent the blistered skin from secondary infections. The following are some of the ways that can help you avoid and prevent the risks of footwear allergies including:

  • Personal care practices such as proper and cleaning of socks and shoes regularly prevent the likelihood of heat rashes.
  • If you tend to sweat excessively and frequently engage in sporting activities, you should avoid wearing tight socks or one pair of socks continuously and for prolonged periods of time.
  • It is also recommended that you should avoid wearing wet socks and shoes or long exposure to the sun. If you suffer from footwear allergies, wearing allergic-free and comfortable foot wear is one the most widely accepted prevention remedy.
  • Ensure that you only purchase footwear made from 100% naturally organic materials such as light cotton socks and pure leather light-weight shoes, sandals or special boots.



Foot Talk. (Updated 18th May 2017). Foot Dermatitis: Shoe Allergies. Retrieved 8th, September 2017 from (Updated 12th September 2017). Foot Rash. Retrieved 8th, September 2017 from

Ngan, V. (2017). Shoe Contact Dermatitis. Retrieved 8th, September 2017 from

Shaw, R. (May, 2012). Retailers’ Guide to Footwear Allergies. Retrieved 8th, September 2017 from

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