As COVID continues to spread, more potential and confirmed symptoms have been discovered. In addition to the most common symptoms of fever, shortness of breath, dry cough, altered sensation of smell and taste, other symptoms such as conjunctivitis, skin rashes and diarrhoea are becoming more apparent.
“COVID toes” have been identified as another potential sign. The first reports of such cases early April were made by Spanish Podiatrists. Podiatrists started noticing that there were numerous cases of sick people, mainly children and young people, who had small dermatological lesions on their feet. Often these lesions appeared in the absence of other COVID-19 symptoms; sometimes before the appearance of other symptoms. Those lesions, were described as “purple-coloured” and typically appear around the tips of the toes, though they usually healed without leaving marks on the skin. They compared the marks to those that result from chickenpox, measles or pernio (small lesions that appear after exposure to very cold temperatures).
While “COVID toes” are not yet a confirmed symptom of COVID-19, other podiatry and dermatology associations have also noticed the correlation between the toe lesions and coronavirus infections.
It’s unclear exactly why this may be happening with COVID-19 patients, but it may have something to do with how the virus stimulates inflammation. It can be a localized inflammation to the finger or toes. Or, it can be the inflammation causing micro-clots in the circulation. There have been reports that an increase in blood clotting has been seen in those who are very ill.
Some professors believe that the appearance of “COVID toes” mainly in children and young adults may signal that it’s an immune response, too. Children and young adults have stronger immune systems and they have a strong local response. ‘COVID toes’ are possibly a sign of a robust immune response, and also could be why younger people tend to have a more mild course of infection than adults.
Right now, it’s not totally clear whether the foot lesions are definitely related to COVID-19, but when it’s so common right now during a pandemic and is occurring in otherwise asymptomatic or mildly affected patients, it seems too much of a coincidence not to be a manifestation of the virus for patients in their teens and 20s.
It is vitally important that Podiatrists remain very vigilant because this may be a sign of COVID-19 detection that can help to avoid the spread. “COVID toes” are still a bit of question mark. Like with all aspects of this virus, there is so much to learn. Podiatrists and patients should be aware of the potential symptom. As usual, if you notice this new symptom, or any other COVID-19-related symptoms, it’s best to call your doctor regarding next steps for diagnosis and treatment.
If you are at all concerned, or have foot pain, call us today.
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