What are the causes of burning feet?

Updated June 18, 2018

Burning feet, or burning foot syndrome, is a condition in which feet feel painfully hot. It's common for people who are 50 and older to complain about the syndrome and its symptoms. Though there are various causes that can bring on burning foot syndrome, most of them aren't serious. Through various treatments and lifestyle changes, most symptoms of burning feet can be controlled.


The most common symptom of burning foot syndrome is the sensation of your feet burning. Sometimes this burning can feel painfully hot; other times the burning can be mild. Other symptoms of burning foot syndrome are redness, swelling or a stinging feeling in your feet. Sometimes this burning can be so painful that a person may have trouble sleeping.


The causes of burning feet can be something as simple as tired feet or shoes that don't fit properly. If you find yourself standing on your feet for long periods of the day, this can be the cause. Other less serious causes are irritating fabrics or fungal infections such as athlete's foot. More serious causes of burning feet are alcoholism, nerve damage, thyroid dysfunction, blood disorders diabetic neuropathy, HIV/AIDS, kidney failure, liver damage, gastric bypass surgery, peripheral artery disease and anaemia.

When to Seek Treatment

Seek medical treatment immediately if the burning sensation comes on suddenly after you've been exposed to a toxic substance. The same holds true if you are diabetic and the burning sensation suddenly comes on and your feet have open wounds.

If the burning sensation continues after you've tried self-care for several weeks, schedule an appointment to see your doctor. It's also best to make an appointment if the burning has become intense, more painful, started to spread into your legs or you've lost feeling in your toes and feet.


You doctor will want to know what's causing your feet to feel like they are burning before he prescribes a treatment plan. You'll probably be asked about your recent history and health. Tests such as an MRI, blood tests and X-rays will be run in an effort to determine the cause of your symptoms.


If the cause of your burning feet is as simple as tired and overworked feet, you may be asked to rest your feet at an elevated level, wear more comfortable and better-fitting shoes or soak your feet in a bath of cool water. You may also be asked to wear magnetic therapy insoles. If the pain is caused by an infection, you'll more than likely be prescribed a topical cream and antibiotics to treat the fungal infection. If the symptoms are caused by a serious illness, that illness will have to be treated to alleviate the burning in your feet.

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About the Author

For over 25 years, Joyce Starr has owned businesses dealing with landscape & design, lawn maintenance, specialty herbs and a garden center. She holds certificates in landscape design and xeriscaping. Starr shares her passion for nature in her writing, publishing articles on horticulture, outdoor recreation, travel as well as business.