Wednesday, Dec 07, 2022

Covid toes: Know the symptoms, causes, prevention, treatment

As research is still ongoing, there has not been any particular cause pointed out for why it occurs, and in whom, say experts

covid toes"Covid toes will usually be cured on its own, but sometimes we may use mild doses of hydrocortisone to make the treatment faster," Dr Shuchin Bajaj said. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Among the various effects of Covid-19, many have reported ‘covid toes’ or cases where ulcer or necrosis occurs on the tip of a toe and the neighbouring toe. Why is it a concern? A recent report in the BBC suggested that a teenager in Scotland has been unable to wear shoes owing to the condition, which has been prevailing for the past nine months.

“My feet swell up, I get blisters all over them and they go from pink to purple really quickly,” she told BBC Scotland’s The Nine. “I get lumps on the bottom of them which makes it really hard to stand up for long. I can only wear flip-flops,” she added.

What is Covid toes?

Covid toes can develop on the fingers and toes alike. As per, it appears to be more common on the toes and begins with a bright red colouration on the fingers or toes, which then gradually turns purple. It can start from one toe and affect all the toes.

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“Covid toes are a recently-recognised symptom of Covid and can last anywhere from 10 to 14 days to many months. Usually, there is a discoloration of the toes and the toes become red or purplish and there may be some itching associated with it. But usually there is no pain in the toes, but sometimes there can also be a presentation of pain which may become so severe that the patient is not able to wear his shoes,” Dr Shuchin Bajaj, founder-director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals told


As research is still ongoing, there has not been any particular cause pointed out for why it occurs, and in whom.

As per, many of the patients who have so far been reported to have Covid toes have not had many other symptoms of Covid-19. Those that have had symptoms have had a mild fever or congestion and have been predominantly younger patients. It states that as per a proposed mechanism by Kolviras et al., Covid toes could be an antiviral immune response implemented by younger immune systems that results in microangiopathic (small blood vessel disease) changes.

However, another theory suggests that the condition may not be a direct result of Covid-19, as per Instead, the researchers propose that the condition is due to lifestyle changes brought on by the lockdown, such as walking barefoot in homes; inactivity, and increased time spent in sedentary positions, the site states.



For most people, Covid toes are painless but the discolouration of the toes makes it noticeable. But for many others, it can also cause blistering, itch, and pain. For some others, there could be a build-up of pus under the skin, mentioned Dr Nandini Barua, senior consultant dermatology, Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon.


While the condition clears up on its own in most cases, one should contact healthcare professional if it persists. “There is no such treatment. To reduce pain or itching, apply hydrocortisone cream to the affected area. However, if this fails to bring relief or symptoms worsen, contact a board-certified dermatologist,” mentioned Dr Barua.


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First published on: 27-07-2021 at 10:00:05 am
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