Dermatology in the News

It’s been dubbed “COVID toes” – a mysterious new foot rash is being seen in unusual numbers in COVID-19 patients, and the medical community is taking note of what may be a new symptom for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The condition can be seen in feet or toes that turn purple and blue, and which look similar to frostbite. The skin can be hot or painful to the touch and may develop small blisters.

It’s typically seen in younger people, such as children. It’s also more likely to appear in people who are asymptomatic – meaning they don’t display any obvious symptoms of COVID-19 – or in those who have a milder set of symptoms.

Dermatologists in New York and in Italy, who are treating significant numbers of COVID-19 patients, are also starting to document a rash that may be associated with the disease. The rash is red in color (doctors call it “erythematous”) and may be linked to blood flow in the tiniest capillaries that deliver blood flow to the skin.

To date, it appears that about 20% of patients who test positive for COVID-19 also develop this type of red rash. Doctors say that’s not unusual – erythema may occur with any skin injury, infection, or inflammation. For example, patients who have other viruses – think measles – also develop red rashes.

To properly study both of these possible new symptoms, the American Academy of Dermatology has established a reporting link so doctors and healthcare workers can report details of what they are seeing in the cases they are treating. When compiled, the data may help identify COVID-19 cases in their earliest stages and help “flatten the curve.”

What does this mean for you?

While it’s important for Midwest Dermatology patients to be aware of this new dermatology-related symptom, we encourage you not to panic. Rashes appear on the skin on feet and toes very frequently.

It’s highly unlike any new rash on the toes or feet indicates COVID-19, but it’s a good reminder that all skin rashes should be diagnosed so they can be treated in the right way. Only dermatologists, who specialize in skin disorders, have the expertise and the tools to rule out other conditions – like eczema, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, fungal infections and more.

Right now, Midwest Dermatology can assess a rash in any of our six locations. Or, if you are not well and unable to come into the office, several of our dermatologists can do an initial assessment via tele-dermatology, so you can stay in the comfort of your home.

As your body’s largest organ, the skin plays an essential role in defending your insides against everything outside, including infections. As healthcare professionals learn more about COVID-19 each day, the possibility of symptoms seen in and on your skin demonstrates how important it is to see a dermatologist so they can provide expert medical care.