COVID toes are painful red or purple lesions that appear on the toes or soles of the feet. The hands/finger and other locations may also be affected. The discoloration is believed to results from the clogging of small blood vessels. The exact mechanism behind this clogging of small blood vessels is unknown. However, it does NOT appear related to the clogging of large blood vessels (DVT) or embolism (a blood clot that forms in one area and is carried to another).
Other viral infections, such as measles, can cause rashes or blotchy areas to appear on the body. COVID toes appear to be another manifestation of the body’s response to a viral infection such as COVID-19. There does not appear to be a correlation between the severity of the viral infection (ex. COVID-19) and the severity of symptoms from COVID toes. COVID toes are one of many symptoms that patients infected with the COVID-19 virus may manifest. More common signs and symptoms of COVID-19 infection are:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle of body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
When monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19, the more common symptoms such as cough, fever, and muscle aches would appear before COVID toes. However, as many individuals infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic it is possible to develop symptoms of COVID toes without other symptoms. If an individual develops any specific symptoms and is concerned about COVID-19 infection they should be tested and seek advice from their healthcare provider.
Edited July 3, 2020