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What is COVID toe?

What is COVID toe?

Last Reviewed : 12/24/2020
What is COVID toe?

  • COVID-19 affected people may have small red bumps over the toes
  • They are commonly seen in children, teens and young adults
  • These skin lesions improve by themselves in few weeks

As COVID-19 pandemic evolves, several new manifestations are being identified all across the globe. While alterations in taste and smell were predominant in Europe, skin manifestations are now seen more often in the United States.

Skin manifestations of COVID-19 are reported in several journals. Rash is the most common skin finding noticed in people affected by COVID-19. Other findings include painful small blisters, sand-paper type slightly raised, small skin lesions called as petechiae, chicken-pox like fluid-filled vesicles, lesions appearing like hives called as urticaria, and small solid nodule like lesions.

Lately, chilblains like lesions are being noticed on toes and fingers in several COVID-19 patients. Chilblains is inflammation of small blood vessels in toes and fingers triggered by exposure to cold. This results in painful blisters, red patches, or small nodule like lesions in hands and feet. Similar to chilblains, small red bumps are seen in toes of COVID-19 affected people.

Like chilblains, these red bumps are seen more often in children, teens and young adults. Sometimes, these skin findings are the only signs and symptoms of COVID-19 without other classic symptoms like fever, cough, and shortness of breath. They are frequently seen on the toes and they can be extremely painful with burning or itching. They appear as reddish bumps initially and soon become purple.

These red and purple skin lesions on the toes and fingers are usually transient and they improve by themselves. Tight footwear should be avoided. Skin-soothing local ointments may be used. Steroid creams like cortisone or hydrocortisone cream may be used on red skin rashes. Steroid creams should be avoided if there are any skin openings.

In summary, COVID toes are small red to purple bumps noticed on the toes of the COVID-19 affected people. They are commonly seen in children, teens and young adults. These lesions may improve by themselves without any active intervention.

References:

  1. Estébanez A, Pérez-Santiago L, Silva E, et al. Cutaneous manifestations in COVID-19: a new contribution. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2020 Apr 15. doi: 10.1111/jdv.16474. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 32294264.2)
  2. Recalcati S. Cutaneous manifestations in COVID-19: a first perspective. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2020 Mar 26. doi: 10.1111/jdv.16387. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 32215952.3)
  3. Alramthan A, Aldaraji W. A case of COVID-19 presenting in clinical picture resembling chilblains disease. First report from the Middle East. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2020 Apr 17. doi: 10.1111/ced.14243. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 32302422.

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