Feet and coronavirus model

Doctors Discover “COVID Toes” Symptom In Young Coronavirus Sufferers

Doctors around the world are starting to confirm a strange symptom appearing in mostly young people who have contracted the novel coronavirus, sometimes without other symptoms and sometimes before the classic effects appear. What has been dubbed “COVID toes” presents as painful, sometimes burning purple or blue sores on the feet and toes, as well as occasionally on the fingers, and were discovered by Italian doctors in March.

Like the sudden loss of the senses of smell and taste, COVID toes can appear in otherwise asymptomatic patients. In other cases, the sores come and go before the common respiratory symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath appear.

“This is a manifestation that occurs early on in the disease, meaning you have this first, then you progress,” said University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine chief of infectious disease Dr. Ebbing Lautenbach. “Sometimes this might be your first clue that they have COVID when they don’t have any other symptoms.”

According to experts, this strange symptom appears more often in children and young adults, possibly because they have a stronger immune system than older individuals. They typically last 7-10 days and could be an inflammatory response of the immune system or minor clotting in the blood vessels, but doctors are still unsure of exactly what causes the sores to occur.

“The short answer is nobody knows,” said Lautenbach.

Another medical expert, chief of critical care for the emergency department at Massachusetts General Hospital Susan Wilcox, has seen the symptom appear in severe cases of COVID-19, as well as in cases of viral pneumonia or severe flu. She believes it’s part of the body’s inflammatory response, which can sometimes spiral out of control and result in long-term damage or death.

“You get the infection, and then your body will release a cascade of inflammation,” she said. “In many ways, it’s beneficial, but then sometimes it can either be too much, so the inflammation can lead to its own damage.”

Either way, experts are recommending anyone who develops this symptom self-quarantine as they are likely to be contagious.