Hot Hands and Feet: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Hot hands and feet – What is it?

Hot hands and feet are mainly caused by damaged nerve cells. This results in severe burning sensation in the limbs followed by swelling and numbness.

Causes for Hot hands and Feet

The most common reasons that can trigger an episode of hot hands and feet are the abuse of alcoholic or caffeinated drinks. Some of the other causes are stated below:

  • Erythromelalgia: Symptoms consist of hotness, burning sensation in the hands and feet followed by extreme sensitivity to touch.
  • Tarsal or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Conditions show similar symptoms. Patients experience built up of pressure in the joints and extensive burning sensation due to compressed nerves.
  • Hypothyroidism: Improper functioning of the thyroid gland leads to several complications in the human body including burning or hot sensation in the hands and feet.
  • Dysfunctional Kidney:  Kidney failure leads to increase in the blood toxicity levels. This results in a feeling of numbness and burning sensation all over the body, especially in the hands and feet.
  • Liver Damage: Similar to the kidneys, if the liver is unable to filter out the blood from cell waste, it can result in causing toxins levels to build up over time. Swollen hands and feet sensitive to touch is a side effect of liver damage.
  • Menopause: The fluctuating hormone levels in the bloodstream due to menopause can lead to several side effects. Burning sensation in the hands and feet is one of them.

Other Causes

To be precise, Neuropathy is the leading cause behind burning hands and feet. Nerve cells in the limbs, especially in the legs tend to get damaged over time. Given below are some other causes that result in hot hands and feet:

  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Uremia (Chronic kidney disease)
  • Deficiency in Vit. B12, folate & Vit. B6
  • Lyme disease
  • HIV/AIDS infection
  • Amyloid polyneuropathy
  • Side effects of chemotherapy
  • Overdose of Vitamin B6
  • Side effects of HIV medication
  • Side effects of isoniazid, amiodarone, metformin etc.
  • Erythromelalgia
  • Lead, mercury or arsenic poisoning (Heavy metal poisoning)
  • Inflammation of blood vessels (or Vasculitis)
  • Sarcoidosis
  • GBS (or Guillain-Barre syndrome)
  • CIDP (or Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy)
  • Athlete’s foot
  • PAD (Peripheral artery disease)
  • Poor circulation of blood
  • Gastric bypass surgery
  • Low absorption of Vitamin B

Hot Hands and Feet

Symptoms of Hot Hands and Feet

The most common symptoms for hot hands and feet include:

  • Swelling in the areas around the hands and feet
  • Unbearable aching in the soft tissue
  • Tenderness

Diagnosis for burning hands and feet

Any of the following tests might be recommended by the medical practitioner based on the severity of the case:

  • Electromyography (EMG): An electromagnetic test that records the electromagnetic activities inside the muscles.
  • Nerve conduction study: It is a test that checks the capability of the nerve cells for the transmission of the impulses.
  • Pathological tests: Samples of blood, urine and in some severe cases, spinal fluid is examined thoroughly for determining the cause.
  • Nerve biopsy: On some very rare cases, a doctor may suggest surgical removal of a nerve cell for proper examination under a microscope.

Tips to avoid Hot Hands and Feet

  • Wear well-fitted shoes: Shoes with plenty of arch support is ideal for avoiding instances of nerve damage that will further result in hand and feet burning.
  • Application of antifungal medications: In case of fungal skin infections, it is strongly advised to apply antifungal medicated ointments in the affected area.
  • Improve body circulation: Exercising regularly increases the flow of blood in the body. 30 minutes regular workout session on a daily basis is enough to increase the blood circulation in the body. Proper blood circulation leads to fewer instances of burning hands and feet.
  • Treatment of underlying conditions: When deeply seated, ailments like hypothyroidism, diabetes etc. are left unattended for quite some time, it can cause certain side effects like sensitive hands and feet.

Treatments for Hot Hands and Feet

  • Vitamin deficiency: In case there is a deficiency of vitamin B12, oral administration or injection of this nutrient is advised.
  • Alcoholism: Alcohol abuse should be stopped immediately. If symptoms persist it is advised to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Chronic kidney disease: In cases of kidney diseases, to ease out the side effects like burning hands and feet, dialysis could be helpful.
  • Hypothyroidism: Patients suffering from hypothyroidism can take oral medications for raising the thyroid levels in their hormones.
  • Plasma Exchange: Plasmapheresis is the method of removing blood plasma from the body. The removal takes place by separating it into plasma and cells for transfusing the cells back in the bloodstream.
  • Immune Globulin Therapy: IVIG is an approved treatment for graft vs. host disease and ITP. These are especially used to treat different autoimmune, idiopathic and infectious diseases.


Given below are some of the most commonly prescribed medications for burning hands and feet:

  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • Amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin)
  • Desipramine (Norpramin)
  • Topiramate (Topamax)
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
  • Pregabalin (Lyrica)

Over the Counter (OTC) medications:

  • Motrin IB
  • Advil
  • Aleve
  • Tramadol (Ultram)
  • Miconazole (Micatin)
  • Terbinafine (Lamisil AT)
  • Fluconazole (Diflucan)
  • Tylenol
  • Naftifine (Naftin)
  • Itraconazole (Sporanox)

Note: It is important that you consult a qualified professional before consuming any of the above medications.


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