Two things usually come to mind when thinking of COVID-19: respiratory symptoms and social isolation. The last thing to pop into your head would be your feet, but there’s a symptom of COVID-19, called COVID toes, worth discussing.
The pandemic took the world by storm in early 2020. While symptoms usually include a dry cough, fever and a loss of taste and smell, there have been reports of seemingly bizarre symptoms. One such symptom is a red toe rash.
What Are COVID Toes, And Are They Common?
COVID toes are a red rash that forms on the toes of some people who have COVID-19. According to Dr. Humberto Choi, there is a link between COVID-19 (and other viral infections) and rash formation. For instance, measles, chickenpox and shingles are other viruses that cause rashes and skin lesions.
According to Healthline, viruses can lead to rashes for two reasons. First, they can result from your immune system aggressively fighting off the infection for you. Secondly, viruses can cause damage to your skin cells. Viral rashes usually clear up when the infection subsides.
Choi notes that COVID toes are relatively uncommon and don’t affect most patients. The BBC also recently discovered that they are more common in unvaccinated people and younger adults.
That said, it’s important to know that they’re a possible symptom and to learn what you can do about them.
How Do I Know My Red Toe Rash is COVID Toes?
It goes without saying, but the best way to determine if your red toe rash is COVID-related is to take a test if you haven’t already. Many people with COVID toes don’t experience other traditional virus symptoms.
If you test positive for COVID-19, there is a chance that your toe rash is COVID toes. For more clarity, you can assess for some other tell-tale symptoms, which we’ll discuss below.
Symptoms of COVID Toes
COVID toes may come with other troubling side effects, in addition to a rash. Other symptoms may include:
Other Possible Causes of Red Toes or Red Toe Rash
- Athlete’s foot
- Nail Fungus (cellulitis can occur if a fungal infection spreads to the skin — causing red, swollen toes)
- Psoriasis on the feet / Psoriatic arthritis
- Chilblains: A disorder that causes inflammation of the small blood vessels in your toes after exposure to cold air.
COVID toes generally go away on their own. That said, it’s best to contact your healthcare providers if you have a lingering rash that won’t clear up. You should err on the side of caution while you’re in your isolation period, but you can still schedule a virtual visit with your family doctor while you’re waiting.
A foot clinic like Feet First may also be able to help! A chiropodist can examine your toes during a foot assessment (after you’re out of isolation) and determine if topical steroids or other medicinal ointments and creams will help. Your chiropodist may be able to determine if the cause of the red toe rash is COVID toe, or if the culprit is a more common foot condition. Furthermore, they’ll likely suggest foot care you can do from home, such as keeping your feet protected with socks and footwear, keeping your feet dry, and regularly inspecting your toes.