A Closer Look At COVID Toes

Last updated: 06-26-2020

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A Closer Look At COVID Toes

If you caught Dr. Silverman on WCCO Radio, you may have heard him speak about an interesting side effect of the coronavirus known as COVID toes. And while he did a great job explaining the topic on the radio spot, we wanted to expand on the topic on the blog. So today, we take a closer look at what COVID toes are and what they mean for your health.
What Are COVID Toes?

As the coronavirus began spreading around the world, more people began presenting to their foot specialist or dermatologist with odd symptoms in their toes. Some people had red blotchy toes, while others has swollen purple toes or darker colored lesions. Many specialists thought these symptoms were an indication of an issue called pernio or chilblains, in which cold temperatures lead to an inflammation of the tiny blood vessels in your toes, which can cause a darkened and swollen appearance of the toes.

However, many patients were saying that their feet had not been exposed to colder temperatures, and many cases were popping up in currently warm places like Spain or Italy. Moreover, doctors were also seeing the symptoms in many patients who were suspected of or currently being treated for having the coronavirus. This lead to doctors terming the condition “COVID Toes.”

It’s worth noting that we’re still trying to pinpoint why some patients experience COVID toes while their body fights off the coronavirus, but the prevailing medical opinion is that COVID toes is a pernio-like condition. Your body is literally fighting for its life when it’s trying to kill off a virus, and that can lead to other symptoms in your body. In fact, it’s not uncommon for skin reactions to occur alongside viral infections as your body works to rid the virus from your body, so for a small subset of patients, their coronavirus case is developing concurrently with a reaction in the toes.

The good news is that the condition seems to be presenting most in young and healthy patients, who are better capable of handling the virus. So while it may be an indication that you’re dealing with the coronavirus, especially if your other symptoms are mild, you also shouldn’t take it as a sign that you’re headed for a ventilator. You’ll obviously want to take all the standard precautions that come with learning that you may have the coronavirus, but from what we’ve seen, it tends to be more of a mild skin reaction in a generally healthier subset of patients, which is encouraging.

If you believe that you or someone you know may be dealing with COVID toes or another problematic toe condition, reach out to the proper healthcare facility. And if it turns out to be a foot issue and not a viral infection problem, we’d be happy to provide you with the best hands-on care at Silverman Ankle & Foot.


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