A color change in your toes could be a symptom of COVID-19. (Graphic by Natalie Ayvazian)
Fountain Valley High School

COVID toes and other lesser-known coronavirus symptoms

COVID-19 manifests differently in each person, ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, loss of taste or smell, congestion, sore throat and more.

However, people infected with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic or presymptomatic are estimated to account for more than 50% of transmissions, according to the CDC. This rate is estimated to be higher in teens ages 14-20 who are also less likely to develop severe illness. Despite this, young people may still exhibit the following symptoms.

COVID toes

The American Academy of Dermatology Association states COVID toes are a symptom that can appear at any age but appears more often in children, teens and young adults. COVID toes refer to swelling and discoloration that can develop on toes and/or fingers.

COVID toes are a purplish color that can start out bright red. Many people don’t feel the swelling at all, but the AAD says other side effects of COVID toes include: “blisters, itch or pain, painful raised bumps or areas of rough skin” or “small amounts of pus under their skin.”

Pain or itchiness can be reduced with hydrocortisone cream, which can be purchased without a prescription at Walgreens, CVS and other pharmacies, and the symptom usually fades on its own after 10 to 14 days. However, some may experience COVID toes for months.


Other common COVID-19-related skin symptoms include hives and rashes. A “COVID Symptom Study” led by researchers from King’s College London and health science company ZOE surveyed about 12,000 people who had skin rashes with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases and found that a rash was reported as the first symptom in 17% of respondents.

The British Association of Dermatologists also created a website to display images of the rashes found from the COVID Symptom Study. They list eight rash categories: urticarial (hives), papular and vesicular (chicken pox-like rashes), pityriasis roseaeczemapurpuricviral exanthemoral rashes and COVID toes.

These are lesser-known symptoms of COVID-19, but it is important to screen for them while practicing social distancing and wearing masks to slow the spread of COVID-19.