12th March 2021
People infected with Coronavirus may end up developing a chilblain-like inflammation on their feet that could cause their toes to turn a purple colour, ‘Covid toes’.
What are ‘Covid toes’?
‘Covid toes’ closely resemble an inflammatory condition in which one or more toes turn red, swell up, and sometimes blister.
Over the course of several days, the redness may darken to a purplish colour. Sometimes the blisters resemble a skin reaction to cold called chilblains, and they can spread to the rest of the foot.
Your fingers may also be affected with the same swelling, discoloration, and blistering. Sometimes the swelling looks like a small bulb on the toe, and in other cases it causes whitish sores.
People who have had ‘Covid toes’ report that the condition can be itchy and is painful enough to keep them from wearing shoes.
What causes ‘Covid toes’?
It is not entirely clear why ‘Covid toes’ occur. Some professionals have pointed out that rashes are relatively common when patients are fighting viral infections, especially when they are respiratory in nature. It is believed ‘Covid toes’ may be an extension of this phenomenon that occurs with Covid-19. Similarly, treatment with antibiotics can cause rashes and other skin issues.
How is it treated?
If lesions and swelling suddenly develop on your fingers or toes, consult your Podiatrist, Doctor or dermatologist to make sure it isn’t a different skin condition that needs a specific course of treatment.
Your Specialist may order Covid-19 testing.
Your Specialist may want to do blood tests for any underlying medical conditions.
Your Specialist may recommend removing a small piece of skin for further evaluation under a microscope (biopsy) if your diagnosis is in question.
Topical corticosteroid cream helps with inflammation.
For typical chilblains, medicine that lowers blood pressure can open the blood vessels and increase blood flow.
If skin breaks down and becomes infected, antibiotics may be prescribed.
For help and advice with ‘Covid toes’, please contact Central FootClinic in Derby on freephone 0800 6444 201
Blog compiled by Adnan Nazir, Specialist Podiatrist, Central FootClinic