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Having red feet like circling above ankles. No pain or swelling. Remedy?

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Practicing since : 2008
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My husband works out of town and he told me this morning his feet were red and it was like a ring circling above his ankle as if he had socks on but didn't and the feet were red. No pain or swelling
Posted Wed, 3 Jul 2013 in Skin Hair and Nails
Answered by Dr. Geetika Paul 1 hour later

Thanks for your query.

You husband seems to have developed some type of allergic reactions.
Such reactions usually present with sudden onset redness of the affected region.
It can be associated with itching , irritation or discomfort.
I would like to know if there is any associated itching or discomfort in his case.
Since there is no associated pain or swelling, it almost rules out the chances of it being an infection or cellulitis.
Now coming to the etiology or the cause of such reactions, wearing of any new shoes or socks can cause such allergic reactions. Even using any new oils or creams can cause the same.
So i would like you to rule out the above causes.
I would like you to clarify if there was redness and the skin lesions on both his feet or was it unilateral.
A unilateral rash with redness may lead us to a different set of causative pathologies in which we will have to rule out insect bites in particular.

Also it would be great if you can take some close up pictures of the same and upload them here on this page. You can also mail the same to YYYY@YYYY with heading as ref to Dr Geetika Paul.

Now regarding the treatment, i would advise you not to use any oils or moisturizing creams over the affected area. Wear cotton lowers and canvas shoes as much as possible. Application of a topical steroid cream can be of help to you. In addition, oral antihistamines can be taken to relieve the redness.

Hope it helps,
Waiting for your response and the pictures if possible.

Dr Geetika Paul
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Having red feet like circling above ankles. No pain or swelling. Remedy? 12 hours later
Thank you for your reply. There is no itching, lesions. He has no pain, they are just red. Hasn't done anything different that he can think of. He is in a stressful job and this time on the job has been more than usual. His pulse rate has been higher than normal even with a good blood pressure. Pulse has been upwards of 122 sometimes for no reason (at rest). He woke up this morning to find his feet this way. I have pictures to send but have to figure out how to upload so you can see. It looks like his feet have been placed in very hot water but they haven't. I will email you the pictures and hopefully you can help us out.
Answered by Dr. Geetika Paul 3 hours later

Having seen the pictures that you have sent, I can be surer about things now.
The skin rash is in the pattern of a photosensitive rash, which means that he has developed something like a reaction over the exposed parts.
The legs, which were covered with trousers, do not have any skin redness.
Only the areas of lower leg and feet, which were exposed to sunlight, have developed the skin rash.
Was there history of wearing open footwear in sun or excessive sun exposure without wearing socks?

Therefore, it looks like a sun allergic reaction or sunburn.

I hope he is not on any other medications at present. Let me know the details if he is on any. As there are certain medicines which increase the tendency to develop such reactions.

Any kind of stress can exacerbate skin allergic reactions.
Your husband should use a topical steroid over the affected area twice day for 3 to 4 days. Remember to use a sunscreen with spf >26 over all the exposed parts of body before going out in the sun including the feet (if wearing open footwear).

Hope it helps,

Anything else bothering you, please let me know.

Dr Geetika Paul.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Having red feet like circling above ankles. No pain or swelling. Remedy? 8 hours later
He wears steel toed footwear daily. Does not wear any open toed shoes at all. Always has his socks on until ready for shower or bed. He did tell me this morning that the other day he slipped his shoes on without his socks and went to the truck to get something, He wondered if the cleaning lady maybe had cleaned with something that may have landed in the shoes. He tells me this morning they aren't quite as red. He will be coming home soon and we will see his doctor if this doesn't clear up but were concerned with him being out of state. Thank you for your help.
Answered by Dr. Geetika Paul 1 hour later

Thanks for writing back.

You seem to be right in the possible reason for the presentation of the skin rash.

The exact pattern of the rash and its prompt cut off at a particular place leads us to a clue that it is definitely an irritant allergic reaction.

If it is not due to sun exposure, then the other possible cause can be due to irritation due to footwear or any chemical applied to it.

However treatment has to be avoiding the suspected allergen. Avoid wearing that footwear.
Wear pure cotton socks.

Can use a topical steroid, however it is better to see a dermatologist for proper assessment.

Hope it helps.

Dr Geetika Paul.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Having red feet like circling above ankles. No pain or swelling. Remedy? 2 days later
I am so sorry for bothering you. I pressed him further and asked if he had gone out at all without shoes or socks. It was like a light bulb hit and he said he had under armour on and stood outside on the step and cut his hair. Sunburn! When he got home I could see the XXXXXXX line wear the tops stopped at the waist. He said he wasn't out there long but when those areas never see sun it doesn't take much. Thank you so much for your time and help.
Answered by Dr. Geetika Paul 5 hours later

Good to know that we have finally found the reason for the unusual presentation of your partner.

I would advise him to take good Care in the future and try and not to step out in the sun without wearing a good sunscreen.
You can however continue with the treatment as was advised earlier.

Hope it helps

Wishing your partner speedy recovery.

Dr Geetika Paul
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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