Some people call it “COVID toes” or “COVID hands,” according to Dr. Kerri Purdy, President of the Canadian Dermatology Association.
“These are the painful red and purple bumps that tend to occur at the tips of the toes or on the top of the feet, or on the top of the fingers or the fingertips,” she said.
Canadian doctors are used to seeing similar lesions, such as frostbite associated with the cold, she said, but are less common in hot weather.
“In this particular case, we don’t think it’s related to a cold injury,” she said.
“We think these may be tiny blockages of the small vessels because we think COVID is causing people to have an increased tendency to have blood clots. “
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Other types of rashes have also been reported in patients with COVID-19, she said, but it is still too early to know how common skin symptoms are with the disease.
“So far in Canada, we haven’t seen a ton. And I think it may be fair to say that our numbers are not as high as in these other places, “she said.
Some of the first documents on the skin problems associated with COVID-19 were published in a report released in late March by an Italian doctor, who noted that 18 of the 88 patients studied, or 20%, had some sort of skin problem.
The author of the small case report noted that more studies are needed to better understand how COVID-19 affects the skin.
Since then, the American Academy of Dermatology has asked its members and other physicians around the world to provide case reports to a registry of dermatological symptoms associated with COVID-19.
An association of dermatologists in France has also distributed a bulletin to its members. A podiatric association in Spain did the same, noting reports of frostbite-like lesions on the feet of children in particular, and also created its own foot problem registry to determine if they are associated with COVID- 19.
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Skin rashes and other such symptoms are not really unusual with viral infections, said Dr. Julia Carroll, a licensed dermatologist practicing in Toronto.
“I think it is important for people to know that with any viral disease we tend to see rashes,” she said. It can be hives, skin rashes that look like psoriasis or come in other forms.
In general, children are more likely to develop rashes as a result of viral infections than adults, said Purdy.
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Carroll thinks it is far too early to tell if these symptoms could be a specific effect of a coronavirus infection or if they are a more common reaction to a virus.
“I would say the jury is completely on the screen right now. I don’t think we’ve had enough time or there have been enough posts for you to link the two specifically, ”she said.
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Purdy believes that even if “COVID toes” and other skin conditions are not a definitive sign of COVID-19, they should be added to the list of possible symptoms.
“I think the probability of it being a possible symptom is quite high,” she said. “I don’t think this is a very common symptom. But I think only time will tell where the evidence supports this, as you will notice that with COVID, things change so quickly. “
This does not mean that if you have a rash, you necessarily have COVID-19, however.
“Unexplained rashes would be things you could add to this list, just like something the general public might consider may be related to COVID-19, but may not be,” she said.
“But it’s the same with cough, fever, runny nose and headache. You know, there are a bunch of causes for all of these things, but I think it wouldn’t be unreasonable to add it to the list of things people might be looking for. “
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you should know:
Health authorities warn against all international travel. Return travelers are legally required to self-isolate for 14 days, starting March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent the spread of the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to provide self-isolation for people returning to the region.
Symptoms may include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing – very similar to a cold or the flu. Some people may develop a more serious illness. Those most at risk are the elderly and people with serious chronic conditions such as heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend washing your hands frequently and coughing up your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying at home as much as possible, and keeping two meters away from others if you go out.
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