Your Covid-19 questions answered

What are 'Covid toes' and how do I know if I have them?

14 October 2021 - 07:00
The World Health Organisation has included Covid-19 toes in the list of less common Covid-19 symptoms.
The World Health Organisation has included Covid-19 toes in the list of less common Covid-19 symptoms.
Image: 123RF/Piyapong Thongcharoen

Are your toes swelling and turning red or a purplish colour? This could be a sign of a condition dubbed “Covid toes”. 

A new study conducted by British Journal of Dermatology, found that some patients who test positive for the Covid-19 develop less common symptoms like discoloured and swollen toes.

The condition can show up on toes, fingers, or both.

Here’s what you need to know about “Covid toes”.

Who gets 'Covid toes'?

The condition can show up at any age but affects children and teenagers more commonly.

The study found that young patients with Covid toes seemed healthy, and many of them don’t get the more common symptoms of the virus. 

What do 'Covid toes' look like?

Covid toes can be swollen, discoloured and also possibly have blisters, itching and areas of rough skin.

In medical terms, they can look like chilblains, which is a painful condition caused by inflamed blood vessels in the skin as a result of exposure to cold air.

Are 'Covid toes' contagious?

It advises that if you think you have Covid toes or any symptoms of the virus, you should stay home and self-isolate for 10 days from symptom onset, plus for three days after symptoms cease.

This is important if you haven’t been vaccinated, or if you live with people who haven’t had the vaccine. 

How can 'Covid toes' be treated?

Like regular chilblains, Covid toes, at this time, may need treatment with creams or other drugs.

To reduce pain or itching, you can apply a cream to treat redness, swelling, itching, and discomfort to the affected area. 

If this fails to reduce the pain or worsens the symptoms, it is advised to contact a certified dermatologist.


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