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Why Are My Feet Hot?

Overview

Hot or burning feet occurs when your feet start to feel painfully hot. This burning sensation can be mild to severe. Sometimes, it can be severe enough to interfere with sleep.

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Causes

What causes hot feet?

The following conditions can cause a burning and hot sensation in the feet:

Pregnancy

Hot feet are common during pregnancy due to a number of factors. The increased weight on the feet causes feet to swell. There are also a number of hormonal changes taking place during pregnancy that can cause an increase in body temperature.

Learn more about pregnancy.

Menopause

Menopause can cause you to experience a lot of different symptoms. One of them is hot feet. This is a result of the hormonal changes taking place in the body.

Learn more about menopause.

Alcohol abuse

Consuming too much alcohol can damage your peripheral nerves and result in a condition called alcoholic neuropathy. Certain nutrients are necessary for proper nerve function. Alcohol in the body interferes with the levels of these nutrients within the body, and can result in damaging proper nerve function.

Learn more about the effects of heavy alcohol use.

Athlete’s foot

Athlete’s foot occurs when the tinea fungus begins to grow on the surface of the foot’s skin. Feet that itch, sting, and burn are common symptoms of athlete’s foot.

Learn more about athlete’s foot.

Vitamin deficiency

When the body lacks certain nutrients, nerve function is affected, much like alcoholic neuropathy. In this case, deficiencies in folate and vitamins B-6 and B-12 can cause hot and burning feet.

Learn more about vitamin B deficiencies.

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, or CMT, is an inherited peripheral nerve disorder. This nerve disorder causes damage to sensory nerve fibers. It can sometimes result in a tingling or burning sensation in the hands and feet.

Learn more about Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

Heavy metal poisoning

Lead, mercury, or arsenic poisoning can lead to a burning sensation in the hands and feet, even in mild cases. When enough of these metals accumulate in the body to be toxic, they start to replace other essential nutrients that are necessary for proper nerve functioning.

Learn more about poisoning caused by lead, mercury, or arsenic.

Vasculitis

Vasculitis, or inflammation of the blood vessels, can cause damage through scarring, thickening, and weakening the blood vessel walls. When blood flow toward the feet is blocked, this can cause pain, tingling, and tissue damage.

Learn more about vasculitis.

Sarcoidosis

Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease in which granulomas, or clumps of cells, form in various organs and cause inflammation. Symptoms of the disease vary based on what part of the body is affected. If your nervous system is affected, you may experience hot and burning feet as well as seizures, hearing loss, and headaches.

Learn more about sarcoidosis.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is an aggressive form of chemical drug therapy used to treat cancer. Because it’s used to destroy rapidly growing cells in the body, this treatment can also result in nerve damage. If nerve damage happens in your feet, you may experience burning and tingling.

Learn more about the side effects of chemotherapy.

Diabetic neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a complication of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar levels can cause nerve damage, leading to a pins-and-needles sensation in your feet. People with this condition often experience hot feet at night.

Learn more about diabetic neuropathy.

Uremia

Uremia is also known as chronic kidney disease. It occurs when your kidneys are damaged and don’t perform their normal function. Instead of filtering the blood and sending toxic substances out through your urine, these toxins end up in your bloodstream instead. This can cause peripheral neuropathy, resulting in tingling and burning in the extremities.

Learn more about chronic kidney disease.

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy, or RSD, is a condition that occurs when the sympathetic nervous system malfunctions. It usually develops after an injury or other medical condition. RSD occurs in the extremities, and a painful burning sensation may develop in your feet.

Learn more about reflex sympathetic dystrophy.

Erythromelalgia

Erythromelalgia is a rare yet painful condition. It results in “attacks” in the feet and occasionally the hands. These attacks consist of redness, warmth, and swelling of the extremities, which can lead to a burning and hot sensation in the feet.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. This condition can cause nerve damage and hot feet.

Learn more about hypothyroidism.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs when there’s damage in the posterior tibial nerve, which is located near your ankle. A feeling of pins and needles in your feet is a main symptom of this syndrome.

Learn more about tarsal tunnel syndrome.

Guillain-Barré syndrome

Guillain-Barré syndrome develops when the immune system begins to attack the peripheral nervous system. Its cause is unknown. Symptoms range from numbness to tingling and weakness, specifically a prickling sensation in your fingers and toes.

Learn more about Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy

Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, or CIDP, is a neurological disorder. It causes nerve swelling and inflammation. This inflammation destroys the myelin that coats and protects the nerve fibers. CIDP results in a tingling sensation in the feet and hands.

Learn more about CIDP.

HIV and AIDs

A person in the later stages of HIV may develop peripheral neuropathy and experience hot or burning feet.

Learn more about HIV and AIDs.

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Treatment

How are hot feet treated?

The treatment for hot or burning feet will vary depending on the underlying cause. In most cases, treating the underlying condition can help hot feet. For example, in the case of diabetic neuropathy, treatment involves regulating blood sugar levels.

If hot feet are due to nerve damage, it’s of utmost importance to stop the nerve damage from progressing. Your doctor can prescribe a number of medications to treat the painful sensations caused by neuropathy, including pain relievers.

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Outlook

What’s the outlook for someone with hot feet?

Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about the symptoms you’re experiencing. See your doctor right away if your symptoms:

  • last for more than two to three days
  • are accompanied by numbness
  • start to spread

There are many cases when these symptoms will be temporary, such as with pregnancy or menopause. In many other cases, treatment of the underlying disease or condition can decrease or stop hot feet and other symptoms.

Article resources
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease: Signs and symptoms. (n.d.).
  • Heavy metal poisoning. (2006).
  • Kidney failure. (n.d.).
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). Peripheral neuropathy: Symptoms and causes.
  • Tavee J, et al. (2011). Sarcoidosis and small fiber neuropathy. DOI:
  • Types of vasculitis. (2014).
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