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Burning Feet

Causes, Prevention, and Treatment


Updated June 16, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Woman taking foot bath, low section
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Do your feet burn? Burning feet can have several different causes, from simple problems with socks and shoes to more serious medical concerns. While some have problems with numb toes, those with burning feet are looking for ways to prevent and treat the problem.

Hot Shoes and Insoles

You may be having a sensitivity to the fabric or leather dye in your shoes or socks, or even the detergent used to wash your socks. Try different kinds of socks, made of different materials. Try different kinds and brands of shoes. Choose mesh shoes vs. full leather so your feet have a chance to breathe. I have found some insoles make my feet feel hot even in mesh shoes. Buy a new insole or swap them with insoles from another pair of shoes to see if it is the culprit.

Hot Socks

Natural fibers are not good for walking - save the cotton socks and the wool socks for other times. Use socks made of Cool-Max and other artificial fibers that wick sweat away from the feet and cool them down.
Before You Buy Walking Socks

Athlete's Foot

With athlete's foot, the burning is limited to the area of the fungal infection. Usually it will also be itchy, red, scaling, or cracking. Good foot care is the key to battling athlete's foot. The fungus likes to grow in damp places, so change your shoes frequently to allow them to dry out between wearings. Wash and dry your feet after walking. There are various powders and remedies to treat athlete's foot as well.
Athlete's Foot

Peripheral Neuropathy

Now we enter scarier territory. This is damage to the nerves, in this case the nerves to your feet. Burning is one symptom of peripheral neuropathy, but it can also be a "pins and needles" sensation, numbness, tickling or tingling. One of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes. If you are experiencing burning feet and haven't had a medical checkup in a while, it is a good idea to stop putting it off and to discuss it with your doctor. Diabetes can come on at any age and it pays to begin addressing it immediately.
Foot Care Tips for People With Diabetes

Other conditions that can produce peripheral neuropathy include AIDS, alcohol abuse, Vitamin B-12 deficiency (pernicious anemia), heavy metal poisoning, and circulatory disorders.
About Peripheral Neuropathy

Exercise such as walking is good for peripheral neuropathy as it improves circulation to the feet. Massaging the feet also increases circulation.

Help for Burning Feet

  • After walking, immediately change out of your shoes and socks, allowing the shoes to dry.
  • Soak your feet in cool water - do not use ice.
  • Pain relievers such as aspirin or acetaminophen.
  • Try changes in your shoes, socks, and insoles.
  • Rotate your shoes and socks, both between walking sessions and during the day.
  • See your doctor for a checkup and mention the problem as well as any tingling, numbness, etc. in hands or other areas.

Next: Don't Ignore Numb Toes

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