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Are 'COVID Toes' The Newest COVID-19 Symptom?

Medically reviewed by Ika Villanueva Caperonce, MD · Infectious Disease · Makati Medical Center

Written by Kathy Kenny Ylaya Ngo · Updated Jun 10, 2021

Are 'COVID Toes' The Newest COVID-19 Symptom?

The usual suspects when it comes to signs and symptoms of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) are dry cough, fever, shortness of breath, and feeling tired for no reason.

People who are asymptomatic won’t show or exhibit any symptoms, but they could still easily transmit the virus.

As COVID-19 continues to spread all over the world, lesser-known symptoms are starting to emerge, such as: lack of a sense of smell, and a variety of skin problems, like rashes and lesions.

Recent news has shown that there are some skin manifestations that could be indicative of COVID-19. These developments have led to skin dermatologists looking at and examining symptoms virtually.

This has led to a new, emerging COVID-19 symptom called ‘COVID Toes’.

COVID Toes: The Newest COVID-19 Symptom?

The wider COVID-19 spreads, the more certain emerging symptoms are being associated with it. Though initially disregarded, COVID toes are now being studied carefully to see if this condition truly is a symptom of COVID-19.

It’s important to note, however, that various rashes associated with a virus is not a new phenomenon.

Whenever a new virus goes around, there is an expected rise in skin complaints, particularly rashes.

What Do ‘COVID Toes’ Look Like?

COVID toes don’t just appear on the toes. This presents as red to violet flat, discolored lesions on fingers, elbows, toes, and the lateral aspect of the feet, with or without accompanying swelling or itchiness.

Though it looks really unusual, COVID toes are actually not a common symptom. The usual symptoms are still those of flu-like or respiratory nature.

COVID toes and rashes are becoming more documented and studied.

What is the Exact Cause of COVID Toes?

It is not yet known why COVID toes occur. However, it is not uncommon for a person to have skin manifestations on their body when they have a viral infection. This is one of the ways that the body reacts to the virus.

One pattern that seems to be common for those who reportedly have the COVID toes are red to purplish lesions found on the toes or soles that may or may not be itchy or painful. Similar lesions can also occur on the hands, but are less likely.

The cause is yet to be fully understood but experts are considering that virus-induced injury to the blood vessels may be why.

Skin Rashes as COVID-19 Emerging Symptoms

Aside from COVID Toes, there are other skin manifestations that seem to affect COVID-19 patients.

Morbilliform rash

The most common skin manifestation described was a morbilliform rash, red flat and raised bumps, usually over the trunk more commonly seen during recovery or after hospital discharge.


Sudden pale red wheals resembling an allergic reaction or urticaria has been reported as a presenting sign of COVID infection. This may occur with or without fever.

Vesicular Lesions

Small fluid-filled skin lesions resembling varicella have been reported to appear over the trunk and occasionally over the limbs. These appear 4 to 30 days after the onset of other COVID symptoms. These typically last 10 days.

Livedo-like/necrotic vascular lesions

In older patients with severe form of COVID-19 disease, these lesions were described. The skin looked blotchy-red or blue, with a net-like pattern.

Petechial or dengue-like skin lesions

These lesions have also been described.

Key Takeaway

Skin rashes can have many causes and until a complete test has been done, it may be difficult to identify the source of the rash.

‘COVID Toes’ can look pretty alarming. They look like red or violet discolorations, and may appear not just on the toes, but in the fingers, elbows, and feet. More studies are needed to further cement current findings about COVID Toes.

Learn more about Coronavirus here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Ika Villanueva Caperonce, MD

Infectious Disease · Makati Medical Center

Written by Kathy Kenny Ylaya Ngo · Updated Jun 10, 2021

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