The novel coronavirus has infected more than 2.6 million people worldwide, and doctors are warning this week of a new COVID-19 symptom for parents to be on the lookout for.
Dermatologists nationwide have begun to see an influx of patients with what they’re calling “COVID toes.” The condition is an inflammation of blood vessels in the feet that is characterized by blistering, pustules, scabs and ulceration.
Please be aware there are skin signs of covid. Purple red papules on the fingers and toes. Looks like chilblains/ pernio. May have no other covid symptoms. Seen in young people.
Images of pernio like changes of Covid-19 from Italy @TamarPedsRheum @NataliaVasCan @IreneBlancoMD pic.twitter.com/5jKp04Yykq
— Dawn Wahezi (@DWahezi) April 11, 2020
The technical term for COVID toes is perniosis (or pernio) otherwise known as frostbite, which is defined by the National Institutes of Health as “itchy and/or tender red or purple bumps that occur as a reaction to cold.”
Amy Paller, MD, chair of the Department of Dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine says that doctors are seeing cases of COVID toes in patients who are “in the second decade of life” — kids and teens.
The first reports of pernio occurring in kids with COVID-19 came from Italy in late March, where case reports detail the painful red blisters and sores developing, according to Yahoo Life. It’s a large part of the reason why American dermatologists are suspecting a potential link between the sudden rise in the condition amid COVID-19.
Doctors say most patients are “often otherwise perfectly healthy kids with very mild symptoms,” which leads many to believe that COVID toes may be a sign of asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19.
The International Federation of Podiatrists recently published a report about a 13-year-old boy who’d been complaining about foot sores. At first, doctors believed he had been bitten by a spider. But when he began to experience flu-like symptoms, doctors learned that both his mom and his sister had been sick with COVID-19.
Experts say the condition has not been linked to other coronaviruses, but it has been linked to patients with pneumonia or a bad flu.
COVID toes is not a confirmed symptom of coronavirus.
The condition can heal on its own in seven to 10 days, but in some cases, COVID toes has progressed to respiratory symptoms.
“This is a manifestation that occurs early on in the disease, meaning you have this first, then you progress,” Dr. Ebbing Lautenbach, chief of infectious disease at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine told USA Today. “Sometimes this might be your first clue that they have COVID when they don’t have any other symptoms.”