Parenting in a pandemic is so hard and we're all doing our best to keep our kids healthy, and that means adhering to social distancing recommendations and contacting local health authorities if our kids have symptoms. We know fever, cough and shortness of breath are among the most common symptoms of COVID-19, but there is a less expected symptom parents are now learning about: so-called "COVID toes."
Back in early March a small study out of Italy documented skin problems on COVID-19 patients and found about 20% of the people in the small study (only 88 people) had a dermatological issue. Early data suggests kids are experiencing this symptom of COVID-19, sometimes in the absence of other symptoms.
On March 8, A 13-year-old boy in Italy was treated for foot lesions, and his pediatrician noted that a couple days later he developed the more typical symptoms of COVID-19. Now, dermatologists and pediatricians around the world are aware of and documenting cases of "COVID toes."
Sick Kids dermatology now describing skin findings in asymptomatic -mildly symptomatic kids with Covid19. Red to violaceous papules/nodules or cutaneous vasculitis.#FOAMped#COVID19 #paediatrics pic.twitter.com/JVpK72broL— Rick MaskDonald MD 🚴♂️🏄🏻🎾 (@Kidsdoc1Rick) April 13, 2020
What parents need to know about COVID toes:
Reports of pediatric cases of COVID toes are limited at this time and most published reports are of adult patients.
This makes sense because the CDC's data suggests children are way less likely to become seriously ill if they contract the virus, compared to adults. But if your child gets a rash, lesion or papule on their feet or hands you should call your medical care provider and be on the lookout for other COVID-19 symptoms, like a fever.
Some young patients seem to develop this type a acral manifestations on relation to #COVID19 infection. Have a look to this article from the italian colleagues. https://t.co/mxPVHsY4km pic.twitter.com/JtRkAK7OxR— Dr. Ramon Grimalt (@DrRamonGrimalt) April 7, 2020
The internet is calling this phenomenon "COVID toes" but it can also appear on a child's hands. In an interview with CTV News, Dr. Ebbing Lautenbach, chief of infectious disease at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine, says the lesions can look like blue or purple bumps and hurt or feel warm to the touch.
"They are often painful when you touch them and some people also describe feeling hot or burning," Lautenbach explains. "They've been demonstrated to be an early sort of physical manifestation of COVID, at least in some patients."
Bottom line: COVID toes are not an internet myth and are something parents should be on the lookout for. If you or your child has symptoms of COVID-19 call your doctor. If anyone is having trouble breathing, call 911.