Tickling Feet: Amazing Facts, Causes and Prevention Tips

Why your Feet are Ticklish?

by Saima
Tickling Feet

Having tickling feet is a common concern for the majority of people all around the world. Have you ever wondered about the reason why some people are so ticklish while others are somewhat less? In fact, it is a fairly mysterious matter and multiple suppositions are being assumed for too long.

Your sensitivity to tickling is actually your ‘tickle response’ that varies from person to person. In this article, we’ll discuss the different causes of tickle responses in different individuals.

Tickling Meaning

“A slight touch or pressure on a person’s body that induces slight discomfort, irritation, or laughter is known as tickling.”

It can be annoying, laughter stimulating, or entertaining depending upon your tickle response.

Common Ticklish areas of the Body

Almost everyone is ticklish to some specific areas of the body such as:

  • Tummy
  • Stomach
  • Neck
  • Armpits
  • The palm of your hand
  • Feet especially the sole

Tickling Feet Causes

Feet contain more dense nerve receptors than any other part of the body with over 8000 nerve endings. That’s why feet are more sensitive or ticklish than other body parts.

When anyone tickles you, the minute nerve endings of that specific skin area send signals to the cerebellum that is involved in keeping the balance of the body. That’s why you experience a loss in the balance of your body while laughing or irritating during tickling response.

Moreover, certain vitamin deficiencies may cause more tickling sensitivity. The most important is vitamin B12. So a proper and balanced vitamin intake is necessary to live a healthy fit life. Injury to nerve strain and anxiety are some other factors triggering the tickle response.

Types of Ticklish Responses

In 1897, psychologists G. S. Hall and A. Allin illustrated two types of tickling responses i.e Knismesis and gargalesis. Their description is given below for your deeper understanding:


It is a feather touch-like tickling and itching sensation that generally does not induce laughter. Usually, this is triggered by a little touch or stimulation to sensitive areas of the body. You can assume it’s feeling like the sense when a little parasite crawls on your feet and triggers the abrupt scratching of that area.


This type of tickling is generally linked to laughter stimulation and is a little harder than knismesis. It often occurs when someone repeatedly touches any specific area of your body with little more pressure. The state of intense sensitivity to tickling is known as Hypergargalesthesia.

A person can induce knismesis in the body on his own but can’t induce gargelesis.

Why do you Laugh while Tickling Feet?

A research study indicates that the hypothalamus is involved in sudden giggling or laughing responses due to tickling sensation. The hypothalamus region induces involuntary responses to a certain stimulus and propels projections to the periaqueductal grey matter (PGM). This in turn keeps the balance in coordinating the autonomic responses to stress and injury.

Thus, one can conclude that laughter in response to tickling is an involuntary response.

Another research of 2013, revealed that the brain behaves differently whether the laughter is caused by tickling or chatting with friends. This provides credence to the theory that tickling sensation is a reflex action.

Are There any Health Benefits of Tickling?

If you laugh and enjoy while tickling, then you may experience its possible health benefits such as:

  • Tickling-induced laughter not only reduces the anxiety or stress level but also strengthens your heart muscles.
  • It helps to keep you calm and revitalizing thus, improving your cardiovascular fitness.
  • It decreases the risk of developing stress-related diseases such as high blood pressure.Tickling makes you calm
  • Tickling may also develop a good emotional bond between parents and child as well as a romantic relationship among couples.
  • Some researches demonstrate that you can burn 10-40 calories by laughing for about 15 minutes. However, the calorie loss and laughing connection may change depending upon the person’s health, age, and intensity of laughing.

What if You Don’t Have Tickling Feet?

Sometimes it’s normal to feel less tickling sensation in your feet. But, not sensing it at all may be a warning sign of some associated health hazards such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or any type of cancer.

If you are diabetic and have non-ticklish feet then it means that you may have damaged nerve receptors in your feet. These damaged receptors become unable to send sensory information to the brain. In this case, your different body parts specifically legs and feet face tingling disorder. If you feel tickling in your feet then it means that you are not suffering from diabetic neuropathy.

How to Get Rid of Tickling Feet?

Physical intimacy may be hard for those individuals who are exceedingly ticklish or loathe the tickling touch. Even the tiniest stimulation can make them panic.

You can control this issue to some extent by modifying your thoughts according to the situation such as:

  • The ‘mind over matter’ strategy is good to handle and reduces the tickling response to some extent.
  • Also, you can bear it until you lose your control over laughing reflexively.
  • Thinking about something very serious or important may also help you to reduce the feeling.

However, it is still uncertain that whether you can suppress your tickle reflex permanently or not.

Concluding Remarks

Feet are a delicate part of the body that can be more sensitive to touch in different individuals.  The tickling feet sensation is an involuntary response controlled by the hypothalamus. It can be due to genetics, or your intense sensitivity. However, researchers are still unable to find the exact cause of tickling feet or any other body part.


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