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Feet Tickling
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Feet Tickling Causes: Some People Have More Sensitivity

The tickle or feet tickling, according to the famous academy, answers to a nervous excitement accompanied by by involuntary laughter, experiences in some parts of the body such as the armpits, neck, ribs, back or feet when they touch lightly.

The tickling is a gesture that can be anything from a fun and exciting experience, also known as knismolagnia- a real nuisance. We have all experienced them at some point, from friends, family, or partners, but almost no one knows what they are due to, what their function is, and why they make some laugh and others are uncomfortable.

To begin with, we are going to differentiate between two types of tickling, knismesis, which occur when, for example, a feather, grazes our skin or an insect runs across it. This type of tickling does not usually make us laugh, but it is a natural reaction of our body that alerts us to a possible sting, so the most common reaction to this stimulus is to shake or rub the area with the hand.

Some People Are More Sensitive

For people sensitive to tickling, the feet are one of the most sensitive parts of the body.

Some people feel excruciating discomfort when brushing the soles of their feet during a pedicure. Others hardly notice the sensation of blades of grass touching their feet when they are barefoot outside.

Your level of sensitivity to tickling is known as the tickle response. Scientists have analyzed the response to tickling the feet and other parts of the body, but they continue to wonder what tickling is for.

In this article, we will see what causes foot tickles and why some people are tickler more than others.

What makes your feet tickle?

What makes your feet tickling

The feet contain around 8,000 nerve endings, which is why Feet are a very sensitive part of the body. These nerve endings contain receptors for both touch and pain responses.

Some nerve endings are very near to the skin. That is one of the reasons why some people feel their feet tickle.

Types of responses to tickling

Two types of tickling can occur on the feet or other parts of the body with tickling.


Knismesis refers to slight tingling sensations. They can be pleasant or unpleasant. If your child or someone else has endlessly begged you to stroke and tickle their arms, legs, or feet, you know firsthand what knismesis is.

Knysmesis also refers to eerie tickling, such as caused by an insect walking on your feet, or by anything that makes your feet tingle or itch, such as sand on a beach.


If someone begins to tickle your feet vigorously, generating discomfort and laughter, you are experiencing gargalesis. This is the kind of tickle associated with tickle torture games for kids.

Gargles can be worse if you don’t know it. This type of tickling may have involved to defense mechanism to protect sensitive and vulnerable parts of the body, such as your feet. It can also be perceived by the brain as pain. People are incapable of tickling themselves and producing a gargling response.

Involuntary (autonomic) response

Involuntary Response

The Hypothalamus gland which is in the brain is stimulated by both knismesis and gargalesis. One of the jobs of the hypothalamus is to regulate emotional responses. Painful stimuli will be controlled by the Hypothalamus which controls our reaction to pain.

If you are very ticklish and laugh, or feel uncomfortable when your feet are tickled, you may have an involuntary response generated by the hypothalamus.

Why are some people more sensitive than others?

The response to tickling varies from person to person. Some people have more tickles on their feet than others. The reason for this has not been definitively proven, although a genetic link may exist.

Peripheral Neuropathy

If your feet tickle less immediately or over time, there may be an underlying medical cause, such as peripheral neuropathy. This is a degenerative nerve disease that damages the nerve endings in the feet.

Peripheral neuropathy cause by:

  • Pressure on nerves
  • Infection
  • Trauma
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Diabetes

If you have peripheral neuropathy, the nerve endings in the feet or other parts of the body do not work properly. This can cause numbness, tingling, or pain.

Peripheral neuropathy can make it difficult or impossible for you to feel the type of stimuli that would generate a tickle response.

Can Tickly Feet Be a Sign of Diabetes?

Peripheral neuropathy in the feet is caused by diabetes, known as diabetic neuropathy or diabetic nerve damage. It shows the symptoms of type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Nerve damage from diabetes does not cause feet tickling, although it can cause a tingling sensation that can be mistaken for tickling.

Since diabetic nerve damage can cause numbness, being able to feel a tickle on the soles of your feet is usually a sign that you don’t have diabetic neuropathy. Even so, if you have diabetes and are concerned about the sensations you feel, tell your doctor.


The feet are a sensitive part of the body that can be ticklish in some people. The tickle response is not fully understood but is believed to be an involuntary response which directs by the hypothalamus.

Feet tickling is not caused by diabetes, although the tingling sensation generated by diabetic neuropathy can sometimes be misunderstood as a tickle.

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