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.
While fatigue or a skin infection can cause temporarily burning or inflamed feet, burning feet are most often a sign of nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy). Nerve damage has many different causes, including diabetes, chronic alcohol use, exposure to certain toxins, certain B vitamin deficiencies or HIV infection.
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.
Nov. 11, 2016
- Eleftheriadou I, et al. A patient with type 2 diabetes and a burning sensation in his feet. BMJ. 2014;349:1.
- Rutkove SB. Overview of polyneuropathy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 20, 2016.
- Ropper AH, et al. Diseases of the peripheral nerves. In: Adams & Victor's Principles of Neurology. 10th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2014. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Sept. 20, 2016.
- Athlete's foot. American Podiatric Medical Association. http://www.apma.org/learn/FootHealth.cfm?ItemNumber=978. Accessed Sept. 21, 2016.
- Peripheral neuropathy fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/peripheralneuropathy/detail_peripheralneuropathy.htm. Accessed Sept. 21, 2016.
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome. American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. https://www.foothealthfacts.org/conditions/tarsal-tunnel-syndrome. Accessed Sept. 21, 2016.
- Polyneuropathy. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic-disorders/peripheral-nervous-system-and-motor-unit-disorders/polyneuropathy. Accessed Sept. 21, 2016.