Hot skin, no rash?

I guess I’ll be giving my doctor a call tomorrow, but I’m interested if anyone has any ideas about a very weird symptom I’ve been experiencing intermittently for the last day or so. There is a spot on the top of my left foot near my ankle where my skin periodically feels hot. The heat is not deep, just the surface of the skin. I haven’t noticed it feeling hot to the touch, but it feels like there’s a warmth radiating onto the skin. This happens randomly, lasts only a few seconds, always in the same place, with shoes and socks on or off.

I can’t even begin to figure out what’s going on. I haven’t been sick, not running a fever, no other part of my skin feels hot. I haven’t recently injured my foot or ankle, but it seems to be a nerve issue? Like the nerves at the surface of the skin are incorrectly sensing heat that’s not present.

I know you are all not my doctor and I will consult my own. But any ideas? Anyone ever experience anything like this? I’ve never heard of phantom heat sensing.

Does it hurt? Not necessarily now, but ever? Multiple types of arthritis can cause warm joints. My knees turn red and very warm to the touch…oddly, the warmth and pain don’t always travel together.

A well-localized symptom like this is not typically a cause for concern to most physicians in an otherwise healthy and otherwise asymptomatic individual. Causes might range from an unrecognized infection in the soft tissue (cellulitis; less likely if nothing has blossomed) to inflammation in the joint from a sterile process (arthritis; less likely if there is no associated pain or tenderness)or a single nerve misbehaving (mononeuropathy) or perhaps a problem in the underlying bone. All of these can be tested for and all of them have lists of further underlying causes which branch out widely.

If I saw an otherwise healthy patient with this as the only presentation I’d be inclined to advise them to watch and wait and I wouldn’t do any other testing. But of course the great thing about medicine is that anything could be something cool, so there’s no upper limit to the workup. A better question is whether or not a specific diagnosis needs to be ascertained Right Now, and without anything else, I won’t be surprised if the advice is “No” even if it’s possible–possible–that you have the first manifestation of a disease process that is going to ultimately kill you.

Sure, you might have gonococcal arthritis… You might have amyloid…You might have early necrotizing fasciitis, or a metastatic renal cell carcinoma causing localized symptoms, or …but (unfortunately for the Grand Rounds/House crowd and fortunately for you) probably not.

since she said it did not feel hot to the touch, just a feeling of heat percieved in that area … she thought it might be neurological.

How about tracking when you gt the sensation so you can report it to teh doctor when and if you go. It might help if for example it happens after you have been sitting, or standing or something so you might be able to determine if it is a nerve issue or a circulation issue?

It doesn’t hurt at all, just a sensation of heat on the surface. It doesn’t feel like it’s the joint as it’s offset from the ankle on the top of the foot. I’m feeling it also localized further down toward my toes starting at the second metatarsal to the fourth or fifth (always on the top only).

The onset is random and doesn’t correlate to any specific activity. I can be standing, walking, sitting, or laying down. The duration is always short and the frequency of occurrence seems to vary. My best lay guess is that is neurological, but I don’t know what the underlying reason would be. My stress level isn’t any different than it usually is, although I am slightly busier during the holidays as I work in retail. Otherwise, I feel just fine, so I’m not particularly worried about it; it’s just weird, y’know?

Chief Pedant, thank you for your detailed explanation. I am slightly amused by the doom-and-gloom balanced by the it-could be nothing. That’s often my experience on WebMD as well and always cracks me up (It’s probably nothing, but it could be --dun-dun-dun-- cancer.) I think it’s probably nothing and my body is reacting strangely to subconscious elevated stress levels. Plus, I work in the outdoor gear industry. I talk about thermo-regulation all day long, so it could be a projection. It’s just such an odd symptom, it’s interesting and perplexing, but not so much worrying. The brain is like that though, isn’t it?

Or would that be internalization?

Oh and don’t google images for necrotizing fasciitis if you are at all squeamish…ewww!! The first one I saw was a foot/lower leg wound. That’s comforting! :wink:

I just wanted to chime in here (with my first post, no less) to say that I have experienced this very same thing.

It started about a year ago. It happened sporadically–a couple of times a day for several days, then several days without it happening, then once, then nothing for a week, etc. It stopped after about a month and it hasn’t happened since. In fact, I had completely forgotten about it until I saw this thread.

The sensation was exactly as described in the beginning of this thread. I really couldn’t have described it better myself. It wasn’t in my foot, though–it was in my right shin, pretty much halfway between the knee and ankle.

I am healthy and have never had leg problems, before or since then. There was nothing physical that I can think of (whether it be my health or my general activities) that was any different then than it is now. I hadn’t pulled a muscle or suffered any injury; I wasn’t trying a new exercise routine or anything like that.

I didn’t consult a doctor about it, so I have no info as far as that’s concerned–just my own experience FWIW. But at least you’re not the only one who has experienced this :slight_smile:

Thanks for your input, door number 3. It is reassuring to hear that someone else out there has experienced the same thing with no ill effects. I was hoping to get some responses just like yours and it makes me feel a lot better to know that I’ve probably got nothing to worry about. I googled, but didn’t find anything.

I think based on the feedback here, and since it doesn’t really seem alarming, I’ll just wait a bit and see how long this continues before calling the doctor. It’s still going on, but not as often as the first couple of days. It’s still kind of weird.

ETA: Oh, and welcome to the Dope, door number 3. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the welcome, Brown Eyed Girl. I’m glad my post made you feel a bit better. :slight_smile:

With me it’s a spot on the knee. I feel a pleasant warmth :slight_smile: for no apparent reason, as if I’m standing next to a hot lamp or have an inflammation. Can’t find the source though. :confused: Also wondered whether the corresponding nerve can be affected some other place. Any insights over the last 5 years?

i too have the same issue…!!
in my left foot…
its the same as your description…

spot on the top of my left foot near my ankle where my skin periodically feels hot.
The heat is not deep, just the surface of the skin. not hot to the touch,

but it feels like there’s a warmth radiating onto the skin. This happens randomly, lasts only a few seconds, always in the same place, with shoes and socks on or off.
any extra info would be great…!!

I had this a couple of years back, except it was a whole lower leg that felt hot. I had access to an infra-red camera at work at the time, so I rolled up both trouser legs and did a bit of impromptu thermal imaging, and the afflicted leg was indeed much hotter. It turned out to be infection of a mountain-biking injury that was causing the grief and a course of antibiotics cured the infection and normalised the local temperature.

Thermography is sometimes used in medical diagnostics, but it can cross over into quackery so beware of exaggerated claims from dodgy clinics.

Medical advice is best suited to IMHO.

Note that this thread was started in 2009.

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