Yes, COVID Can Affect Your Toes Too!

March 1, 2022 • • foot careskin conditionstoe conditions
Yes, COVID Can Affect Your Toes Too!

COVID toe, or COVID toes, is an unusual foot problem that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about COVID toe causes, symptoms, and treatments here.

There are many ways the pandemic has affected our feet, but COVID toe might be one of the most unusual foot problems that have emerged since the beginning of COVID-19.  

If you haven’t heard of COVID toe or COVID toes, keep reading! Here’s everything you need to know about this peculiar yet often mild condition.

What is COVID Toe?

COVID toe is a somewhat rare side effect of COVID-19 infection, in which an uncomfortable or painful rash spreads across the toes. This rash often starts as bright red but may darken to a purplish or even brownish color over time. COVID toes may also appear purple from the onset. 

Along with getting a red or purple rash, your toes may experience the following symptoms when you have COVID toe:

  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Blisters (whitish sores or small bulbs)
  • Rough skin patches
  • Pus under the skin

COVID toe can also manifest in your fingers. When this happens, these same COVID toe symptoms and discoloration appear on your fingers or hands. This is not a separate condition, nor does it require a different treatment approach than COVID toe.

What Causes COVID Toe?

Right now, there is limited research on what causes COVID toe. It is generally accepted that COVID toe is another way your body fights off the coronavirus infection.

Many doctors believe COVID toes are associated with the coronavirus but not necessarily caused by viral infection — meaning COVID toes may be your immune system’s antiviral response to COVID-19. This belief is based on COVID toe’s resemblance to another inflammatory condition called pernio, which is an immune response to cold temperatures that manifests in inflamed, red, or bluish patches of skin.

Who Can Contract COVID Toe?

COVID toe can happen to anyone at any age, but it seems to affect younger patients (children, teenagers, and young adults) the most. Interestingly, most patients with COVID toe are otherwise healthy and have mild COVID-19 symptoms, if any. People have tested both positive and negative for the coronavirus while suffering from COVID toes symptoms. 

While COVID-19 is definitely contagious, experts don’t know if COVID toe itself is contagious. That means someone with COVID toe could potentially infect someone else with COVID-19, but this other person won’t necessarily get COVID toe from the infected person.

How Long Does COVID Toe Last?

COVID toe usually lasts around 10 to 14 days but sometimes as long as six weeks or even months. COVID toe can last longer than the contagious period of the coronavirus and remain present after other symptoms have subsided. The symptoms of COVID toe can even manifest far after a person has experienced and recovered from mild COVID-19 symptoms.  

If you think you have COVID toe, immediately self-quarantine and get tested for COVID-19.

Are There COVID Toe Treatments Available?

The skin lesions associated with COVID toe will often go away on their own in a few weeks. You can apply hydrocortisone cream to affected areas to reduce pain, itching, or discomfort. If this doesn’t offer you relief, or if your COVID toe symptoms worsen, contact a professional podiatrist like Alamitos-Seal Beach Podiatry Group.

At Alamitos-Seal Beach Podiatry Group, we are here to answer all your COVID toe questions and other foot issues, pandemic related or otherwise. Contact us today to request a consultation!

Request an Appointment

Fill out the form below to reach Alamitos – Seal Beach Podiatry Group, or call Los Alamitos: (562) 203-6151 or Seal Beach: (562) 242-1559 for immediate assistance.

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