Burning feet: causes and how to deal with them

Feeling weak and tired, sores not healing quickly, frequent urination and losing weight without making any effort are just some of the symptoms that diabetics can relate to. Some even feel a burning sensation in their feet. But if your feet are burning, does that just mean you have diabetes? It turns out that diabetes isn’t the only cause of burning feet.

Burning feet are a commonly encountered condition in neurological practice, says Dr Mirza Masoom Abbas, Consultant Neurology, Manipal Hospital, Yeshwanthpur, Bengaluru.

Causes of burning feet

Burning feet result from damage to the small sensory nerve fibers that transmit pain and temperature sensation to the brain. Here are some of the causes:

1. Diabetes

This is the most common cause of foot burns, explains the expert. Diabetes can cause nerve damage throughout your body because high blood sugar damages nerves over time.

Burning feet have many causes. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Hypothyroidism

An underactive thyroid is a health problem that produces foot discomfort. This changes the balance of hormones in your body and can lead to symptoms including nerve damage.

3. Infections

Nerve damage can occur due to various infections such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Lyme disease, and syphilis, which can cause burning feet.

4. Vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency is common among people who follow a strict vegetarian diet and can cause burning feet, says Dr. Abbas. But excess vitamin B1 and vitamin B6 can also lead to burning feet.

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5. Autoimmune diseases

In autoimmune diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus and Sjögren’s syndrome, the body’s immune system damages its own organs like the skin, joints, and nerves.

6. Excess alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol and exposure to toxins such as arsenic in a contaminated water source can lead to burning sensation in your feet.

7. Kidney disease

Toxins begin to build up in your blood as soon as your kidneys stop working properly. One of the symptoms includes a burning foot, which can be painful.

8. Athlete’s foot

This type of fungal infection causes dry, scaly skin. You may also notice that the soles of your feet turn whitish and you also experience burning sensations in your feet.

Assessing and correcting the underlying cause remains an important first step.
Burning feet usually disappear within a few weeks when the underlying condition is rectified. Vitamin supplements can provide relief as well as oral treatment with gabapentin, tricyclic antidepressants and topical application of capsaicin, says the expert. With diabetes or excessive alcohol consumption, it’s about managing the conditions and making efforts not to further damage the nerves.

Dip your feet in the water
Soaking burning feet in cold water may provide some relief. Image courtesy: Adobe stock

Home remedies for burning feet

When you experience burning feet, not only do your feet feel hot, but you also feel sharp pain. You feel like someone is poking you with needles. To get some relief, you can try these home remedies, but be sure to consult your doctor first.

• Soak your burning feet in cold water for a few minutes.
• Soak your feet in water containing Epsom salt, which is often used to relieve health problems, including muscle pain.
• Massage your feet, as this will help improve blood circulation, but don’t use too much pressure.
• Exercise regularly, as this can help increase blood circulation and deliver more oxygen to your feet.

The burning sensation in your feet can be mild or severe, but don’t expect it to disrupt your life.

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