‘COVID toes’: Puzzling condition a possible coronavirus symptom in young people

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CHICAGO (WGN) – A condition nicknamed “COVID toes” could be a sign of the virus in otherwise asymptomatic patients, usually children or young adults.

Dr. Amy Paller is the chair of the Department of Dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She is also a pediatric dermatologist at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. 

Paller said she has recently seen a large number of teen and young adult patients with lesions, or painful bumps, on their toes.

Paller said the lesions may be on one toe, or all of them, and can appear on the top or bottom of the foot. The lesions are bright red but can evolve into a purple color.

“Sometime itchy, often times painful,” she said. “These are individuals who are often without any other sign of viral infection. We are seeing this in unprecedented numbers during the COVID pandemic.”

Paller said her team is not sure if there is a direct correlation because testing is limited.

“There have been some children who have tested positive, there have been some children who have tested negative,” Paller said. “Most who have this have not had any testing and we’re waiting for antibody testing to come out … to further answer the question of the relationship with COVID-19.”

Paller said parents should not necessarily act urgently if this is the only potential sign of the virus their child is showing. However, it is important to notice and document it with photos if more symptoms should appear.

“None of these teens or young adults have gone on to have any serious issues,” she said. “They seem to resolve after a few weeks. We’ll have to find out more as this progresses.”

Paller said it’s always good to consult a pediatrician with any concerns.

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