Last month, doctors around the world reported a loss of smell as an early symptom of COVID-19. It often presents before any of the other common symptoms like fever, sore throat and shortness of breath.
While it doesn’t affect everyone with COVID-19, anecdotal evidence shows that a large portion of patients experiences a loss of smell and taste.
Now, ‘COVID toes’ could be the latest telltale sign of the virus — even in those who present as asymptomatic.
Purple or blue lesions have appeared on the toes of many patients, especially children and those who haven’t experienced any other COVID-19 symptoms. It has also popped up on the feet of those who have tested negative in the early stages of infection, Forbes has reported.
“They’re typically painful to touch and could have a hot burning sensation,” Dr. Ebbing Lautenbach, chief of infectious disease at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine, told USA Today.
Similar lesions have also been spotted on the feet of critically ill patients in the United States.
Susan Wilcox, Massachusetts General Hospital’s chief of critical care for the emergency department, told USA Today that she noticed them on her patients and chalked it up as a disorder called “purpura fulminans”.
According to USA Today, “this occurs when inflammation from a severe infection causes the body to make micro-clots in tiny blood vessels in the toes, fingers and even nose.”
“You get the infection, and then your body will release a cascade of inflammation,” Wilcox said. “In many ways, it’s beneficial, but then sometimes it can either be too much, so the inflammation can lead to its own damage.”
Wilcox also said that she had seen similar reactions in severe cases of viral pneumonia and the flu and she wasn’t surprised that it was also presenting in COVID-19 patients.
While further research is needed to determine the exact cause of COVID toes, it’s another good reminder to monitor your health (and any changes in your body) extremely closely and call your GP should anything change.
The current health crisis is evolving rapidly. If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.