The coronavirus continues to mutate and new symptoms are coming to light every week from an inflammatory syndrome affecting children in the UK to the clotting of blood in organs. Now, there's a new symptom called "COVID toes" that is turning toes and fingertips purple.
What is 'COVID toes'?
'COVID toes' is a new coronavirus symptom that causes rashes or lesions to appear on one toe or all of them, or even the top or bottom of one's feet.
The lesions are bright red at first before turning purple and can even start appearing on one's fingertips in rare cases, according to Esther Freeman, director of Global Health & Dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.
As per Freeman, "COVID toe" cases look similar to pernio or chilblains, a condition of inflamed blood vessels that is commonly caused by cold temperatures or damp conditions. The dermatologist noted that the strange rash is the younger crowd, including children and adults in their 20s or 30s.
"We're seeing this inflammatory response that we would normally see when someone was exposed to the cold temperature... like someone who has been playing outside with wet socks," Freeman told CBS News. "However, in this setting, we're seeing it in warm climates and we're seeing it in patients who have been indoors and sheltering in place."
Last month, Italian dermatologist Andrea Bassi shared a series of images showing the different forms the rash can take, referring to them as "skin signs of covid."
Linked with coronavirus infection
The skin rashes are emerging as yet another tell-tale symptom of a coronavirus infection. Although federal health officials have not yet included toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, some dermatologists are pushing for a change.
The "COVID toes" lesions can be itchy, and painful, and the patients may only have one or two other symptoms of COVID-19, or no other symptoms. So far, data shows that most people who experience "covid toes" are asymptomatic or have mild cases of the disease.
The other prominent signs of COVID-19 are a dry cough and shortness of breath, but the virus has been linked to a string of unusual and diverse effects as well, like mental confusion and a diminished sense of smell.
COVID toes can spread coronavirus, warns doctor
According to Dr Fred Bodie with USA Health Dermatology, if the purple rashes are accompanied by blisters, one needs to be very careful because popping or bursting these blisters can likely spread coronavirus.
"Chickenpox spread through the blisters, absolutely. Viruses are in that fluid of blisters in chickenpox so I would assume until proven otherwise that it would be infectious," Dr. Bodie told WKRG.