Skin Peeling Between Toes: Causes and Natural Treatments

Skin Peeling Between Toes: Causes and Natural Treatments

Skin peeling between toes is a condition affecting many people and is often caused by a fungal infection or dry skin. Because your toes and feet spend most of the day in footwear, the dark moist conditions can cause skin between your toes to peel and flake off. Germs can quickly multiply and cause infections making the skin between your toes itchy, red, cracked, and prone to peeling. You may find that the peeling skin starts between your two smallest toes and then spreads to areas in between your other toes.

Treating peeling skin conditions between your toes usually involves getting rid of the infection that is causing skin to shed. To stop skin coming off, it’s also important to keep your feet and toes as dry as possible. This helps to keep the skin in your toe web area healthy and prevent skin between your toes splitting.

In this article, you will find out why skin peeling from toes can become a chronic condition. You will also learn what home remedies can help to get rid of dead skin between your toes and treat the conditions that cause skin peeling between toes.

Symptoms of Peeling Skin Between Toes

Your feet and the areas between your feet digits or toes are prone to infections and other conditions that can cause skin to become white, crack and peel off. The journal Nature Review Microbiology stated that the toe web area has high humidity and it’s easy for bacteria and other microorganisms to thrive there.1

The conditions that cause peeling skin on your feet can also cause a lot of discomfort and embarrassment. For example, fungal infections can damage the outer layer of skin, causing it to peel off. According to Dr. William Blahd on WebMD, this skin peeling from the toes will also be accompanied by itching, a burning sensation, and possibly blisters between the toes. It can even make walking very painful.2

Dr. Sandra Gonzalez Gompf on eMedicineNet says that as well as causing the skin to blister, some bacterial infections can cause inflammation and swelling in the affected part of your body. The swelling could also cause a tingling and itchy sensation between your toes if they are affected.3 Also, as the affected skin starts to heal from an infection, dermatologist Dr. Amy Stanway says that you may experience peeling and itchiness.4

If dry skin is causing flaking and peeling between your toes, you may find that you have small to large cracks in the skin. These cracks can start to bleed if they are deep or if you excessively scratch the toe web area.5

Causes and Treatments of Skin Peeling Between Toes

To properly treat skin peeling between your toes, it is essential to know what is causing your skin to become soft, infected, and cracked. Here are some of the most common conditions that cause peeling skin on feet and what you can do to remedy the problem.

Athlete’s foot

One of the most common reasons for chronic skin peeling between toes is athlete’s foot. The moist conditions between your toes create the “perfect” environment for fungi to grow and cause the skin between the toes to become soft and easily peel.

Dr. Amanda Oakley, a dermatologist in New Zealand, says that athlete’s foot usually affects the cleft between your smallest toes. This fungal infection causes the skin to crack and may give off an unpleasant odor. The infected skin can also become very red surrounded by white dead skin.6

According to Dr. Oakley, athlete’s foot can also be caused by a bacterial infection like erythrasma, skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, or because of vigorously removing peeling skin. Wearing footwear that doesn’t allow feet to breathe, excessive sweating, or not drying your feet properly can aggravate athlete’s foot.

Treatment for athlete’s foot

To get rid of athlete’s foot, Dr. Patrice Burgess on WebMD says that antifungal preparations can be used at home to kill off the fungal infection.7 Tea tree oil is a natural antifungal remedy that can help to treat skin peeling between toes caused by a fungal infection.

The Australasian Journal of Dermatology reported that tea tree oil can be used to treat foot fungal infections. By applying a solution containing tea tree oil twice a day for 4 weeks, almost three-quarters of patients saw improvement in their athlete’s foot symptoms.8

How to use:

To use tea tree oil as a home remedy for athlete’s foot and stop skin peeling between toes, this is what you should do:

  1. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil, such as coconut oil or sweet almond oil.
  2. Using a cotton bud or cotton pad, apply the remedy to the skin between your toes 2 times a day to kill off the infection.
  3. Continue applying the tea tree oil treatment daily to your toe area until itching, skin peeling, and broken skin have gone.

To help prevent a fungal or bacterial infection between your toes getting worse, it’s important to wash in between your toes regularly and thoroughly dry the clefts between toes.

If the fungal infection between your toes is small, you can apply a small amount of undiluted tea tree directly on the affected area to kill off the infection. Because tea tree oil is antimicrobial, it can also be used to treat bacterial skin infections between your toes.


Erythrasma is a type of bacterial infection that can be responsible for skin peeling between your toes. The classic symptoms of erythrasma are red, itchy skin between the toes that starts to peel.

Dr. Mark Couture on Podiatry Today writes that poor foot hygiene, excessive sweating, diabetes, and a weakened immune system can complicate erythrasma infections. Dr. Couture also says that the skin between the toes can start to become soft and white before starting to peel.9

If you have noticed red scaly skin between your toes, you should visit your doctor who can advise on the best course of treatment. However, you should make sure and keep your toe web area as clean and as dry as possible. If your socks become damp, you should change them to keep your feet dry.

Toe box dermatitis

Dermatitis around your toes could cause scaling and peeling skin on your foot and in between your toes. As with most conditions that cause peeling skin, dark moist conditions can also aggravate dermatitis.

Dermatologists say that toe box dermatitis usually starts around your big toe. This can cause swelling, redness, and cracks in the skin. You may also experience some pain and itchiness with the peeling skin. This can happen suddenly or the allergic reaction on your toes can happen over a period of time.10

Usually, toe box dermatitis or shoe dermatitis is often caused by your feet and toes coming into contact with allergens. Common allergens in footwear are rubber in sneakers and tennis shoes, compounds used in leather, and other chemicals.

Treatment for toe box dermatitis

To help relieve the itching, skin scaling, and discomfort that toe box dermatitis causes, you can use aloe vera. The soothing properties of aloe vera help to heal cracked and inflamed skin and will in time stop skin peeling from the affected area.

The journal Skin Pharmacology and Physiology reported on a study into the anti-inflammatory effects of aloe vera. Researchers discovered that aloe vera helped to reduce skin inflammation and was superior to hydrocortisone cream.11 Most dermatologists recommend hydrocortisone cream; however, aloe vera can be used as a natural alternative.

How to use:

To help stop skin peeling around your toes and repair fissures and damage caused by dermatitis, you can use aloe vera this way:

  1. Apply aloe vera gel to the affected toes and part of your feet.
  2. Use the remedy 2-3 times a day to help soften skin and keep it moisturized.
  3. Continue using until signs of dermatitis have completely gone from your toes and you no longer have cracked peeling skin.

You can also mix aloe vera with coconut oil for a dermatitis remedy to treat cracked, itchy, peeling skin. Both of these ingredients have many benefits for the skin and you can find detailed instructions and more information in my article on how to make healing coconut oil and aloe vera gel lotion.

Another home remedy for foot dermatitis is witch hazel. The journal Advances in Dermatology and Allergology said that extracts of witch hazel help to treat inflammatory skin conditions.12

All you have to do is put some pure witch hazel on a cotton pad and apply to the cracked, peeling skin between your toes and on your feet. Repeat 2-3 times a day until the signs of dermatitis have gone for good.

Trench foot

If your feet are in damp conditions for long periods of time, the skin between your toes could start peeling due to trench foot.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that if feet are wet for a prolonged period, they can become itchy, sore, and eventually lose feeling. When the foot starts to warm up, you may experience pain, dry skin, and blisters could develop in between your toes and on the soles and top of your foot.13

To prevent trench foot affecting the skin of your toes and feet, it’s important to keep your feet as dry as possible. The CDC recommends not wearing socks when you sleep and you should seek medical assistance if you notice signs of an infection.

Dry skin

Dry skin is a common foot problem that can cause skin flaking between your toes and from the soles of your feet. Dry skin is often caused by washing your body and feet with harsh soaps that strip away the protective layer from your epidermis.

The Mayo Clinic says that dry skin on your feet can not only cause slight peeling or flaking, but you may have mild to intense itching on the affected skin area. If the skin on your feet becomes very dry, it may crack, become red and the skin from the affected area may start peeling severely.5 It is recommended to treat dry skin on your feet with a good moisturizer to nourish and protect your skin.

Treatment for dry skin

There are many natural remedies to treat dry skin on your feet and prevent scaling. Doctors on WebMD say that it is believed that Epsom salt contains healing compounds that promote healthy skin tissue.14

The Natural Medicine Journal reports that coconut oil is a great natural moisturizer with antimicrobial properties that can quickly resolve a problem of dry skin on your feet. In fact, coconut oil is used to help treat many dermal infections.15

How to use:

To help remove dry skin from your feet and between your toes that flake and peel, you can use a relaxing Epsom salt foot soak followed by applying coconut oil.

  1. Wash you feed with warm soapy water and pat dry.
  2. Fill a basin half-full of warm water and add 1/2 cup Epsom salt and mix well.
  3. Soak your feet for 10-15 minutes.
  4. While soaking, you can take a pumice stone to remove hardened dead skin from your heel or other parts of your feet.
  5. Rinse your feet well and pat dry with a clean towel making sure to dry between your toes.
  6. Apply a small amount of coconut oil to your heel and between your toes to help keep your skin soft and prevent flaking.


Cellulitis is an infection deep in the tissue of the skin that can become serious if not treated properly. Although cellulitis affects the lower legs and feet, it can affect the area of the foot around your toes. It can also make other foot conditions like athlete’s foot harder to treat.

PubHealth says that the symptoms of cellulitis are swollen red skin that is tender to touch. The affected skin can blister and start to peel. According to doctors, cellulitis can affect the face, arms, legs, and toes.16

Because cellulitis is difficult to treat and can lead to serious complications, it is advised to see a doctor if you suspect that you have cellulitis. In fact, doctors from the National Health Service warn that the infection can spread to other parts of your body and become a medical emergency.17

Psoriasis of the feet

Another cause of skin peeling between toes is if you have psoriasis of the feet. Psoriasis causes patches of red, scaly skin to appear that can be itchy, bleed, and be very painful.

According to the International Journal of Dermatology, psoriasis can affect the feet, and red, scaly patches of skin can develop in the area between the toes.17 Usually, psoriasis can only be managed and it’s not uncommon for flare-ups to occur.

Treatment for foot psoriasis

Many people use raw apple cider vinegar to help manage psoriasis symptoms. The acetic acid content of apple cider vinegar helps to reduce itching and irritation.

How to use:

To use apple cider vinegar to treat patches of psoriasis between your toes, this is what you should do:

  1. Dilute one part of raw unprocessed apple cider vinegar with 3 parts water.
  2. Soak a clean wash cloth in the home remedy and apply to the affected skin area between your toes and on your feet.
  3. Repeat the process 2-3 times a day until the itching, flaking skin, and red patches in your toe web area have gone.

For other natural treatments to relieve psoriasis please read my article about 12 natural ways to relieve psoriasis.


Diabetes can cause complications with foot conditions that cause peeling skin between toes. Elevated blood sugar levels can affect blood circulation to the arms and legs and slow down the healing process.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, diabetic patients often suffer from athlete’s foot, foot blisters, dry skin between the toes and on their feet, and a buildup of hard skin. Because foot wounds are difficult to heal and diabetes puts you at greater risk of infection, you should see your doctor for any wounds that don’t heal.18

However, doctors from the Cleveland Clinic say that there is much you can do to prevent symptoms of diabetes that cause foot problems and peeling skin. For example, they recommend the following:22

  • Keep the area between your toes as dry as possible.
  • Check your feet every day for signs of sore, red patches of skin, blisters, and dry skin.
  • Don’t put lotion between your toes as the extra moisture could lead to a fungal infection.
  • Always wear closed-toed shoes and avoid going barefoot.

Other Ways to Stop Skin Peeling from Your Toe Web Area

Keeping your feet in good health is usually the best way to stop skin peeling from between your toes. Good foot health and hygiene can also prevent many conditions developing that can lead to cracked skin, itching, redness, and scaling.

Dr. Minesh Khatri on WebMD recommends various ways to prevent foot diseases and problems. Some of these are:19

  • Don’t soak your feet for long periods of time but wash them daily and dry thoroughly.
  • Moisturize your feet daily, however, don’t put lotions between your toes to avoid moisture building up there.
  • Don’t wear tight fitting shoes and make sure that your feet can breathe.

When to See a Doctor

Because your feet are subject to a lot of wear and tear during the day, it’s important to care for them well. Also, infections in the feet can make walking painful and affect your daily activities. Most problems to do with the feet can be resolved by using home remedies from this article.

However, in some cases, it’s wise to see a doctor if you continue to have pain, peeling skin, blisters, redness or other symptoms of infections in your toe area or on your feet. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that if the skin peeling between your toes is severe, you should visit a medical professional.20

Also, Dr. Minesh Khatri on WebMD advises seeing a doctor for conditions of the feet if you notice any of the following:21

  • Any sign of an infection in your feet like redness that won’t go away, swelling, or warmth.
  • You can’t put any weight on your foot or feet.
  • You have diabetes and you have foot wounds that won’t heal.

Read my other related articles:

Article Sources

  1. Nat Rev Microbiol. 2011 Apr; 9(4): 244–253.
  2. WebMD. Fungal infections of the skin.
  3. eMedicineHealth. Cellulitis.
  4. DermNetNZ. Cellulitis.
  5. MayoClinic. Dry skin.
  6. DermNetNZ. Athlete’s foot.
  7. WebMD. Athlete’s foot – treatment overview.
  8. Australas J Dermatol. 2002 Aug;43(3):175-8.
  9. PodiatryToday. Diagnosing dry, peeling skin and redness in between the toes.
  10. DermNetNZ. Shoe contact dermatitis.
  11. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2008;21(2):106-10.
  12. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2013 Jun; 30(3): 170–177.
  13. CDC. Trench foot or immersion in water.
  14. WebMD. Why take an Epsom salt bath?
  15. NaturalMedicineJournal. Treatment of dermal infections with coconut oil.
  16. NCBI. Cellulitis.
  17. NHS. Cellulitis.
  18. ClevelandClinic. Foot & skin related complications of diabetes.
  19. WebMD. Tips for healthy feet.
  20. MayoClinic. Peeling skin.
  21. WebMD. Tips for healthy feet.
  22. Cleveland Clinic. Foot & Skin Related Complications of Diabetes.

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