Health and Fitness

Swollen, Discolored Toes Could be a Symptom of COVID-19 in Children

Besides cough, fever, and shortness of breath, this could indicate a coronavirus infection

It seems like every day, just when we think we're getting closer to finding a vaccine or a cure to COVID-19, doctors are discovering something new about the disease caused by the coronavirus, raising more questions than answers. 

What we know so far about the COVID-19 is that it is an infectious disease that affects the respiratory system primarily, and that its common symptoms include fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. It appears though there are other symptoms that are only emerging now. 

"COVID toes," or the presence of purple or blue lesions on the patient's toes, accompanied by swelling, has been observed among younger patients of COVID-19.

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Dermatologist: ‘COVID toes’ a potential symptom of the new coronavirus Dermatologist looks at link between 'COVID toes' and new coronavirus EVANSTON, Ill. (Gray News) - A dermatologist is looking at a link between an inflammatory reaction of the toes and COVID-19. Northwestern Medicine dermatologist Dr. Amy Paller said she has seen images of about 30 cases of this condition, which has received the informal name of “COVID toes.” The condition has also sometimes appeared in fingers. Paller is calling for more testing on the condition so doctors can learn more about the link between the potential symptom and COVID-19. “We don’t know for sure if it’s related to COVID-19, but when it’s so common right now during a pandemic and is occurring in otherwise asymptomatic or mildly affected patients, it seems too much of a coincidence not to be a manifestation of the virus for patients in their teens and 20s,” Paller said. #covid_19 #covidtoes

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Dr. Ebbing Lautenbach, chief of infectious disease at the School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania, told USA Today, "They’re typically painful to touch and could have a hot burning sensation.”

"COVID toes" are said to be observed mostly among children and young adults than in any other age group.

Moreover, they are common among asymptomatic patients, or those who do not exhibit the common COVID-19 symptoms yet. 

Because little is known about this symptom, doctors hypothesize that it could either be an inflammatory response, or blood clots.

Doctors say "COVID toes" can appear and disappear on their own in a matter of days, or they could progress into respiratory symptoms.

According to Susan Wilcox, chief of critical care at Massachussetts General Hospital, her most critically-ill COVID patients were observed to have the purple lesions too. It was suspected to be purpura fulminans, where a severe infection causes the body to have inflammation, which then makes micro-clots in tiny blood vessels in body extremities like toes and fingers, or even the nose.


This brings to mind the case of Broadway actor Nick Cordero, 41, whose leg had to be amputated after weeks of being treated for COVID-19.

According to a report by the Washington Post, Cordero was being given blood thinners for the blood clots in his leg, but the medication presented with adverse side effects on him. They decided instead to cut off his right leg to prevent further complications. 

Says Dr. Jeffrey Laurence, a hematologist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, "The number of clotting problems I'm seeing in the ICU, all related to Covid-19, is unprecedented." Blood clots can be life threatening if the clot reaches the heart or the lungs.

Based on evidence, experts from more than 30 international hospitals agree that COVID-19 patients may be predisposed to blood clots, although it is not yet clear why. 

This story originally appeared on edits have been made by the editors.

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