Sure, most people who contract the infection show mainly or only the “classic” symptoms of an upper respiratory disease: coughing, difficulty breathing, fever, and aching muscles. But others have had things like severe blood clots, kidney damage, rashes, diarrhea—and also a puzzling foot condition that’s being called COVID toes (or sometimes COVID feet).
At Capital Podiatry Associates, we’ve started to see patients with these symptoms, and the good news is that we are very likely able to help you.
What Are COVID Toes?
There are a number of symptoms that are associated with the COVID toes phenomenon. Typically, the condition presents as toes that are painful and swollen, and covered with reddish or purple lesions or bumps. Sometimes these lesions can appear on the soles of your feet as well. In some cases the pain, tenderness, and itchiness can be severe.
The symptoms are, in fact, very similar to those of a condition called chilblains. With chilblains, small blood vessels in the skin (usually on the feet or hands) become inflamed and cause pain and discoloration. The thing is, chilblains are generally caused by exposure to cold temperatures or damp conditions, so to see them spiking at a time like this is highly unusual. Clearly something else is going on.
Do COVID Toes Mean I Have COVID-19?
Even though there is a lot we don’t know yet, we’d strongly recommend that, if you do develop the symptoms of COVID toes, you should get a COVID test—even if you have no other obvious symptoms that would be typically associated with the disease.
Having COVID toes does not necessarily mean you’re in the active stage of illness, or that you will experience any other symptoms. It’s possible you have an active case of COVID-19 but are otherwise asymptomatic. It’s also possible that your COVID toes didn’t fully develop until several weeks after you, unknowingly, passed through an asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic acute phase.
In fact, there’s some evidence to suggest that COVID toes are more indicative of an overall mild case of COVID-19. Skin rashes are fairly common in situations where the immune system is aggressively fighting an infectious disease, and COVID toes may be an example of that.
However, again, it’s important to clarify that there is still a lot we don’t know. There is enough of a link between COVID toe symptoms and COVID-19 infections that you should always take this situation very seriously, get tested, and take precautions to protect yourself and others as necessary.
What Should I Do About My COVID Toes?
We encourage you to call our office if you’ve developed discolored lesions on your toes that you suspect may be COVID toes—especially if you are dealing with pain, itchiness, and discomfort that is impairing your quality of life.
On the plus side, COVID toes seem to be a temporary reaction and should go away on their own after about three weeks. However, that’s a long time to be suffering, and we can provide you with advice and treatments that can significantly reduce the intensity of your symptoms.
Of course, we are exercising extreme caution when it comes to COVID-19, in an effort to keep our patients and staff healthy and safe. We may recommend that we start with a telemedicine appointment so the doctor can examine your toes without you needing to book a physical appointment.
If you think you have COVID toes, don’t panic! You are very likely going to be fine, but you should still take some appropriate steps to protect yourself and others, and to minimize any painful symptoms. You should:
- Get a COVID test if you haven’t already.
- Call Capital Podiatry Associates to determine what treatment options may be most effective in your case.
You can reach our office in Alexandria, VA at (703) 560-3773, or request an appointment online. Please continue to stay healthy and safe. We look forward to helping you in any way we can!