What Are COVID Toes and Fingers
COVID toes and fingers refer to rashes and discoloration on the toes and fingers of people infected with COVID-19

While less common, COVID-19 can affect your skin. COVID toes and fingers refer to rashes and discoloration on the toes and fingers of people infected with the virus.

What are the signs and symptoms of COVID toes?

Sometimes, COVID toes may be the only symptom of COVID-19 found in patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Most people realize they have COVID toes only after they notice discoloration and swelling on their toes. Other symptoms may include:

In other cases, COVID toes may be accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, cough, chest pain, body ache, etc.

There is no consensus on how long COVID toes last. One expert reports that it may last about 10-14 days; another says 2-6 weeks. But there are reports of patients who have suffered from the symptoms for months.

Who is typically affected by COVID toes?

While anyone can get COVID toes, studies have shown that young children and teens seem to be affected the most. Many of these young patients also do not experience more common symptoms of the virus. The reason behind this is not yet known.

Whether COVID toes are contagious or not is one of the many questions still being researched. However, it seems unlikely that if someone infected with COVID-19 infection who has COVID toes passes the virus to someone else, that other person will also develop COVID toes. If you develop symptoms, contact your healthcare provider to get tested.

How are COVID toes treated?

COVID toe is a self-limiting symptom of COVID-19 that usually gets better without treatment. 

However, if symptoms are bothering you, you can apply hydrocortisone cream to ease pain or itching. You can also try soaking your feet in a warm water bath for 10 minutes, followed by patting dry and moisturizing. If symptoms get worse, talk to a dermatologist.

COVID toes vs. chilblains

Chilblains are a skin condition that can look similar to COVID toes. If you develop burning or itching, or chills on exposure to cold and wet ground, you most likely have chilblains. The condition can also cause other symptoms such as:

  • Blue discoloration
  • Swelling
  • Blisters

Chilblains are different from frostbite, which develops when your skin freezes and blood supply to the skin is significantly diminished.

What other skin problems have been linked to COVID-19?

Some people have experienced skin problems that have been linked to COVID-19. However, these are less common than symptoms such as fever, chills, and shortness of breath.

If you have COVID-19, you may develop skin problems such as:

  • Patches
  • Itchy bumps
  • Blisters similar to chickenpox
  • Tiny, round spots
  • Big patch with multiple smaller patches
  • Lace-like rash
  • Raised bumps and flat spots that merge together

Skin issues such as these may be due to other skin disorders and not necessarily due to COVID-19. Therefore, seek medical advice if you develop these symptoms so they can make an accurate diagnosis.

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Medically Reviewed on 1/5/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

'COVID Toes' Chilblain-like Lesions Not Related to COVID-19. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/953134

COVID toes, rashes: how the coronavirus can affect your skin. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/coronavirus/covid-toes

Discepolo V, Catzola A, Pierri L, et al. Bilateral chilblain-like lesions of the toes characterized by microvascular remodeling in adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(6):e2111369.