Burning feet refers to burning sensations in the feet or toes, which could be caused due to a variety of causes or may even have an unknown aetiology (cause). The most common cause of burning feet is neuropathy or nerve damage, inadvertently associated with diabetes. But, there are a variety of other reasons and causes of burning feet, including some nutritional deficiencies. These causes have been explored in this article, along with a discussion of the treatment options and home remedies for burning feet. 

  1. Causes of burning feet
  2. Home remedies for burning in feet
  3. Other tips for the managing burning feet
  4. Treatment of burning feet
  5. Other causes and risk factors of burning feet

The common causes of burning feet are diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, polyneuropathy, vitamin B1 deficiency, burning feet syndrome, tarsal tunnel syndrome, to name a few. All these causes have been discussed in detail in this section.

Burning feet syndrome

As evident from the name, burning feet syndrome is characterised by pain and burning sensations in the feet. It is a common disorder occurring in the elderly and may or may not hold a specific aetiology. It occurs as an isolated symptom or along with other clinical signs.

Vitamin B1 deficiency and burning feet

Vitamin B1 or thiamine is a part of the vitamin B complex. Its deficiency is observed in the individuals with high demands for this vitamin like pregnant women, athletes and in case of systemic infections and certain cancers. B1 deficiency is also common in malnourished individuals or those receiving parenteral nutrition or presenting with eating disorders. Symptoms like weakness in toes and feet, burning pain, aching and cramping in the lower legs is observed due to paraesthesia. Fatigue and irritability are also commonly seen in cases of vitamin B1 deficiency.

Polyneuropathy and burning feet

Polyneuropathy occurs as a result of damage to several nerves present outside the brain or the spinal cord. This damage happens when our immune system begins to attack the myelin sheath (outer layer or protective covering) of the brain cells. Polyneuropathy or chronic inflammatory demyelinating neuropathy is commonly associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome. It is a more serious condition than neuropathies of other types discussed since multiple nerves are involved in this.

More serious symptoms like fatigue, hoarseness of voice and difficulty breathing may be observed along with difficulty in walking. Inflammatory bowel disease, HIV-AIDS, diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus, chronic hepatitis and certain types of cancer (leading to an immunocompromised state) are commonly associated with polyneuropathy.

Read more: Weak immune system causes

Neuropathy and burning feet

Other than being caused by diabetes, neuropathy may be associated with other underlying causes, like infections, injury, spinal tumours, medications or long-term alcohol abuse. The type of neuropathy associated with sensations or lack of them in the leg is commonly termed as peripheral neuropathy and has similar symptoms as diabetic neuropathy.

Diabetes and burning feet

The most common cause of burning feet is diabetes. The burning sensation in diabetes is caused due to diabetic neuropathy, in which damage to the nerves occurs. Other than feelings of burning, it is characterised by numbing, tingling and pain due to the damage caused to the sensory nerves. Sensory nerves are responsible for carrying the sensations of touch, heat or cold.

Diabetic neuropathy is a complication of diabetes and is commonly associated with a high blood pressure, alcohol abuse, smoking or kidney damage or liver damage, which may be considered as other risk factors for the burning sensations in your feet. The pain of diabetic neuropathy worsens at night, affecting the quality of sleep. During the day, the pain of diabetic neuropathy may interfere with walking.

Read more: Symptoms of an alcoholic fatty liver

Other than the conventional treatment therapies, a lot of home remedies are also employed for getting immediate relief from burning feet. These home remedies include:

Ginger for burning feet

Just like turmeric, ginger is another common kitchen ingredient, which is an anti-inflammatory and will assist in providing relief from burning in feet. You can topically apply ginger paste to your feet and cover with a bandage or you may increase its dietary consumption to achieve its health benefits.

Turmeric for burning feet

Instead of opting for the commercially available treatments and creams, you can make one at home by using a simple kitchen ingredient, turmeric. Turmeric is known to possess miraculous healing benefits and is also an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, which may be responsible for its relieving actions when applied to burning feet. The protective actions of turmeric have been found to be effective in the management of various neurological symptoms, like burning and pain.

To use turmeric, you may prepare a thick paste by adding a little amount of water to turmeric powder. Apply this paste on your feet and cover with a soft bandage leaving it on for some time. This will help you in getting rid of the feeling of burning, and will also ensure a better recovery for the tissues of your feet.

Other than making a paste or a pack, you can also use it as a supplement in your diet. If you already consume turmeric in your diet, it is recommended to increase its dosage. You may also include turmeric milk in your daily routine for achieving a speedy recovery.

Topical creams for burning in feet

Topical creams may be applied in the area where burning sensations are felt to reduce the sensations of burning as well as to get relief. Creams containing capsaicin or lidocaine may be used. Lidocaine is a local anaesthetic agent, which numbs the sensations in the area where it is applied. This will help in alleviating the sensations of burning when lidocaine is applied as a cream. A lidocaine patch has also been found to be helpful.

Oil massage for burning in feet

An advancement of the massage therapy; you can also opt for an oil while massaging to get relief from burning sensations in the feet and to ease massages. But, which oil is best for such massages? You can choose from either of the two options given below. 

Coconut oil

Being an anti-inflammatory, coconut oil is likely to reduce burning sensations and inflammation in the tissues and muscles of your feet. You can simply use it while massaging your feet regularly.

Mustard oil

Another type of oil best suited for massage purposes is mustard oil. It improves the blood flow in your feet allowing better perfusion of the area. It also helps in soothing the burning and prickling sensations in the feet.

Foot massage for burning in feet

As simple as it seems, this remedy requires you to gently massage your feet for improving the blood flow. You can do it yourself, get someone to do it for you or you may use a massager.

It is better that you perform this remedy at the night since most individuals experience greater burning pain at that time. But, you can also perform it at any time best suited for you.

Apple cider vinegar for burning in feet

The use of apple cider vinegar is very popular these days due to its benefits in weight loss. Other than that, it also finds its use in the treatment of diabetes, particularly type 2, and is an anticancer agent.

You can add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and consume it thrice daily for achieving its health benefits while reducing the burning sensations in your feet. It functions by reducing the effects of inflammation in your feet.

For more direct actions on your feet, you can soak your feet in its bath. It is recommended to consult with your doctor before consuming apple cider vinegar, especially if you are a diabetic.

Epsom salt for burning in feet

Instead of dipping your feet in the plain cold water, you can add some epsom salt to it to form a foot bath. About two teaspoons of epsom salt can be added to two litres of water for getting relief from burning feet. You may dip your feet in this bath for 30 minutes daily and use the prepared bath for over 3 to 4 days.

If you suffer from severe burning, you may require to dip your feet for up to thrice a day for 20 minutes each. Long-term benefits with the use of epsom salt have been noted in patients suffering from burning in feet.

Cold water for burning in feet

This is the simplest home remedy for burning feet. Simply dip your feet in cold water and the feeling of burning will gradually go away. Other than dipping your feet in the water, it is recommended to have plenty of water and fluids during your day. This will help in keeping inflammation and soreness at bay.

Certain other tips for managing burning feet have been mentioned below. 

  • Check your feet for cuts, calluses, redness, swelling or other symptoms each day. In case of any symptoms, immediately visit your doctor.
  • Keep your feet and toe-nails clean.
  • Avoid walking barefoot.
  • Wear comfortable footwear.
  • Get regular feet checkups done.
  • Opt for light activities like walking, biking, etc, which will improve the perfusion of the feet.
  • Go out in the sun more often.
  • Keep wiggling your feet to keep the blood flowing.

For successful treatment and management of burning feet, it is essential to explore the underlying cause or mechanism and cater to its removal.

  • General treatment measures include the provision of sufficient rest to the feet, application of ice packs and intake of analgesics to counteract pain. It is also essential to take care of the diet. Regular exercise and movement can help in the management of burning feet. Medications to relieve pain may also be taken, as prescribed by the doctor. Alcohol use and smoking must be immediately stopped.
  • Physical therapy to strengthen foot muscles, and psychotherapy to examine the underlying cause of pain and to manage the stress related to the pain may also help.
  • Sometimes, steroid injections are indicated in an area of extreme discomfort. Surgery may be indicated if it is associated with tarsal tunnel syndrome.
  • In case the person is suffering from diabetes, it is essential to manage diabetes first with the help of oral hypoglycemics (drugs given to lower blood sugar levels) or by the use of insulin.
  • In cases certain medications for the treatment of a different disease happen to be the cause of neuropathy and burning feet in the patient, it is essential to replace this medication and provide an equally effective substitute.
  • Sometimes burning in feet may heal spontaneously and would not require any treatment, while in others, corticosteroids may be prescribed to manage pain and inflammation. In severe cases, immunosuppressants are given to reduce the immune response of the individual and antibody removal therapy is indicated. These procedures hold serious risks and must be performed only by specialists.
  • Vitamin B supplements in the form of vitamin B complex may help in those who are deficient in it or are malnourished. This may also be indicated for individuals suffering from eating disorders and in those who have undergone a recent gastric bypass surgery (weight loss reduction surgery). Supplements may also be beneficial for pregnant women and individuals with high levels of physical activity.

While the basic reasons for burning pain have already been covered, studying them has revealed some other underlying causes and factors, which have been listed below:


  1. healthdirect Australia. Diabetic neuropathy. Australian government: Department of Health
  2. healthdirect Australia. Neuropathy. Australian government: Department of Health
  3. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
  4. Nancy Hammond, et al. Nutritional Neuropathies. Neurol Clin. 2013 May; 31(2): 477–489. PMID: 23642720
  5. Makkar RP et al. Burning feet syndrome. A clinical review. Aust Fam Physician. 2003 Dec;32(12):1006-9. PMID: 14708150
  6. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Diabetes and Your Feet
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