Definition of burning feet
Burning feet — the sensation that your feet are painfully hot — can be mild or severe. In some cases, your burning feet may be so painful that the pain interferes with your sleep. With certain conditions, burning feet may also be accompanied by a pins and needles sensation (paresthesia) or numbness, or both.
Burning feet may also be referred to as tingling feet or paresthesia.
Causes of burning feet
Burning feet that occurs infrequently or for a short time may simply occur because your feet are tired or you have an irritation such as athlete’s foot. Persistent or progressive burning feet, however, can be a symptom of nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy), perhaps due to diabetes, chronic alcohol use, exposure to certain toxins, certain B vitamin deficiencies or HIV.
Possible causes of burning feet:
- Alcoholism or chronic alcohol use
- Athlete’s foot
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (a group of hereditary disorders that affects the nerves in your arms and legs)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Complex regional pain syndrome (chronic pain due to a dysfunctional nervous system)
- Diabetic neuropathy (diabetes-related nerve damage)
- Hypothyroidism (a thyroid disorder)
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome
- Vitamin deficiency anemia
When to see a doctor
Seek emergency medical care if:
- The burning sensation in your feet came on suddenly, particularly if you may have been exposed to some type of toxin
- An open wound on your foot appears to be infected, especially if you have diabetes
Schedule an office visit if you:
- Continue to experience burning feet, despite several weeks of self-care
- Notice that the symptom is becoming more intense and painful
- Feel the burning sensation has started to spread up into your legs
- Start losing the feeling in your toes or feet
If your burning feet persist or if there is no apparent cause, then your doctor will need to do tests to determine if any of the various conditions that cause peripheral neuropathy are to blame.
- Rest and elevate your feet.
- Switch to more comfortable shoes.
- Bathe your feet in cool water.