From taking a walk with your loved ones to dancing into the night, your feet make life enjoyable. However, if your feet begin to feel like they are on fire, you may find it unbearable to walk or move around.
Several conditions can make you feel a burning sensation in your feet, like high blood sugar, nerve damage and vitamin deficiencies. Most of these can be managed by treating the underlying condition.
The following conditions may make your feet feel like they are on fire:
- Having high blood sugar levels can damage your nerves. When you have high blood sugar and do not treat it, it can lead to many complications. One of such complications is damage to the nerves, which can cause you to feel a burning sensation in your feet.
- Taking too much alcohol for a long time can damage the nerves in your feet.
- Vitamins help to nourish your body, including your nerves. If you have low vitamins in your blood, your nerves may become damaged and cause a burning sensation in your feet.
- Your heart pumps blood to other parts of your body through the arteries. If these get blocked, they will not provide enough blood to other parts of your body, including your feet.
- If you have a wound in your foot that becomes infected or a foot infection such as an athlete’s foot, it can cause a burning sensation in your feet.
- Some medicines may cause a burning sensation in your feet as a side-effect. They include cancer medicines and medicines for tuberculosis.
Tight shoes or walking long distances can cause your feet to hurt. You need to visit your healthcare provider if you notice any of the following with your burning feet:
- If your blood sugar is high, it may be a sign of diabetes. Visit your healthcare provider for testing and to begin treatment immediately.
- Reduced feeling of touch. When you start losing the sense of touch or pain in your feet, you need to visit your healthcare provider. This may be a sign of very bad nerve damage in your feet.
- The burning sensation gets worse. If you notice that your burning feet get worse or the sensation spreads to other parts of your leg, you need to see your healthcare provider.
You can do the following to reduce your chances of having burning feet:
- Attend your doctor's appointments. If you have high blood sugar, this will allow you to regulate your blood sugar and avoid complications.
- Treat wounds. Treat your injuries early and adequately. Doing so will prevent infection of your feet.
- Wear appropriate shoes. Wearing comfortable shoes will make your feet breathe and prevent an athlete’s foot or bruises.
You can do the following at home to relieve your symptoms:
- Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. This helps to provide the nutrition needed to keep your nerves healthy or slow down any disease process.
- Soak your feet in cool water to reduce the sensation. Do not do this if you have high blood sugar, as it can increase your risk for injury and diabetic foot syndrome.
- Use an over-the-counter pain reliever. Pain relievers like ibuprofen can reduce the sensation of burning and pain.
- Avoid exposure to extreme temperatures. Exposing your feet to very hot or very cold substances may make the pain worse.
- When you stand up to move around, gently massage your feet and rub in mentholatum. This will improve blood flow to your feet and reduce the chances that you feel some pain.
Your healthcare provider will recommend treatment based on the underlying causes of the burning sensation in your feet. They may recommend medicines to lower your blood sugar. You may also need stronger pain medicines to reduce the pain. Your healthcare provider may tell you to stop drinking alcohol.
Your healthcare provider may recommend medications to treat damaged nerves and the pain caused by the diseased nerves.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet and frequent exercise can improve your overall health. If you have diabetes, you should practice feet hygiene daily (see our section on taking care of your feet in diabetes). Taking early action to report any pain in your feet or legs can help reduce your chances of developing complications and can prevent the need for limb amputation.