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Burning sensation on skin

Dr. Ayush PandeyMBBS,PG Diploma

September 11, 2020

September 11, 2020

Burning sensation on skin
Burning sensation on skin

A burning sensation on the skin—also referred to as skin inflammation—is one of the various sensations that our body registers through different forms and levels of pain. The distinct feeling may be triggered by injuries, wounds and infections. These sensations trigger the senses or make the mind aware of something being wrong in the body.

Read more: Inflammatory disease

Burning sensations can be a result of many different things, from physical injuries and wounds to infections, as well as underlying medical conditions that can be diagnosed through tests. Some burning sensations may go away on their own, but those that have a medical reason could have other effects too, such as pain or even nerve damage.

Read more: Burning mouth syndrome

It is also important to note that burning sensations can affect different parts of the body. The affected area may have:

  • The sensation being hotter to the touch than the rest of the body
  • Itching or other sensations such as pins and needles, as well as prickly pain.

All these factors can cause a great deal of discomfort and it is important to visit a doctor if the problem does not go away with time.

Read more: Burning eyes

Read on to know the many kinds of burning sensations, their symptoms and what are the underlying causes behind such sensations.

Burning sensation on skin symptoms

Usually, a burning sensation, particularly on the skin, is characterised by a feeling of something just underneath the surface of the skin that is causing considerable irritation. Sometimes, this feeling can be very difficult to describe for a person, who may refer to the feeling as something like an insect crawling under the skin, an itch that doesn't go away even after scratching, or a feeling that one is bleeding even though there is no blood visible.

Some of the common signs of skin burning sensation include:

  • Itching
  • Pins and needles
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Crawling
  • Prickling
  • Burning

Read more: Burning feet

Burning sensation on skin causes

Usually, the location of the burning sensation in the skin gives the strongest evidence of the underlying cause. On other occasions, the visual appearance of a rash or something else makes it possible to understand the cause of the burning sensation. Some of the common problems that lead to a burning sensation in the skin are as follows:

  • Sunburn: One of the most common reasons for a burning sensation on the skin is a sunburn. Sunburn is usually associated with direct overexposure to the UV rays of the sun, but one may have a sunburn even when the sun is not at its brightest during the day. (Read more: How to treat sunburn)
  • Skin allergies: Skin allergies are also a common reason behind feeling a burning sensation, mostly caused after coming into contact with certain plants such as poison ivy allergy. You may also be allergic to certain cosmetic items such as lotions, powders, perfumes, soaps that can trigger a burning sensation. Insect bites and stings may also cause the infected area to swell up, leading to rashes and a burning sensation underneath.
  • Dry skin: Dryness in the skin is also often a reason behind the feeling of a burning sensation underneath. Excessive dry skin when it is not moisturised enough can lead to the appearance of flaky spots and dullness on the surface of the skin, which may be characterised by a burning sensation. Dry skin is a common occurrence in winter months as it is not sufficiently moisturised.
  • Dermatitis: Dermatitis is a skin disorder which causes inflammation on the skin which is often seen as reddening, blisters and swelling, leading to intense itching and a burning sensation.
  • Dermatitis neglecta: Dermatitis neglecta is a disorder of the skin which is caused if the skin is not cleaned well enough, and dirt continues to accumulate, leading to burning sensations and itching, and can often be mistaken for other skin conditions.
  • Eczema: Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema leads to the hardening of parts of the skin, reddening and becoming rough to the touch. Different types of eczema are also known to cause a prickling, burning sensation at the site of the infection.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs): A burning sensation felt while urinating is usually a telltale sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI). Both men and women can get UTIs. Apart from a burning sensation, some of the signs of UTIs include running a fever or an increased urge to urinate. Burning sensations while urinating can also point towards other infections such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), or a physical wound on the penis or the urethra.
  • Cellulitis: Cellulitis is a bacterial infection that affects the skin and commonly affects the lower limbs of the body, but can also appear on the face or the arms. While the skin may become excessively swollen and red, there may be a burning sensation underneath felt by the patient.
  • Nutritional deficiencies: The deficiency of nutrients such as vitamins B6 and B12 can also lead to the feeling of burning sensations in different parts of the body. (Read more: Vitamin B deficiency)
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS): Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disorder of the nervous system. Patients may experience unusual sensations such as burning, pins and needles or even the feeling of something crawling under the skin. Besides MS, other conditions affecting the nerves such as mononeuritis, neuralgia, spondylitis, or central pain syndrome (CPS) are also known to cause burning sensations in different parts of the body.
  • Reaction to medications: Certain medicines to treat other conditions may also result in itching and burning sensations on the skin. (Read more: Drug allergy)
  • Herniated disc: A slipped or herniated disc may cause the sciatic nerve to become pinched. Both the causes can lead to the feeling of a burning sensation, either at the site of the herniation, in the buttocks or the back of the thigh. (Read more: Sciatica)
  • Intrahepatic cholestasis: A complication of pregnancy, cholestasis is a liver condition that can cause severe itching—usually in the palms and feet. The condition usually resolves on its own after delivery. (Read more: Cholestatic liver diseases)

Prevention of burning sensation on skin

It is important to note that a burning sensation is primarily caused by allergies, infections, and reactions to medicines. Maintaining a good standard of hygiene is usually a good place to start in order to avoid the burning sensation.

Eating clean and healthy foods, keeping the body healthy and injury-free, besides following certain precautions while being outdoors (such as using sunscreen) are good ways to prevent the feeling of itchiness, burning or prickling feeling on the skin.

For adults, it is equally important to get regular checkups through various diagnostic tests such as blood tests and for other parameters to be aware of the goings-on inside the body.

Diagnosis of burning sensation on skin

As there are multiple reasons behind the occurrence of a burning sensation, it is best to visit a doctor to understand the specific cause behind this intense feeling. A dermatologist is able to diagnose the burning sensation and will be able to guide you better. The doctor may ask you to get some specific diagnostic tests based on the symptoms you have been experiencing and the location where you have been feeling the sensation.

Burning sensation on skin treatment

Based on the diagnosis made by the doctor, a suitable treatment plan is made. As a burning sensation is a symptom, the disease or condition that is causing is treated with the help of the following methods:

  • Medications: oral, ointments or injections
  • Changes in diet
  • Changes to lifestyle and habits
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery


Doctors for Burning sensation on skin

Dr. Abhas Kumar Dr. Abhas Kumar Allergy and Immunology
10 Years of Experience
Dr. Hemant C Patel Dr. Hemant C Patel Allergy and Immunology
32 Years of Experience
Dr. Lalit Pandey Dr. Lalit Pandey Allergy and Immunology
7 Years of Experience
Dr. Shweta Jindal Dr. Shweta Jindal Allergy and Immunology
Consult a Doctor

Medicines for Burning sensation on skin

Medicines listed below are available for Burning sensation on skin. Please note that you should not take any medicines without doctor consultation. Taking any medicine without doctor's consultation can cause serious problems.

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