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Doctors investigate red toes or 'COVID toe' as symptom of the virus

Red, sore and sometimes itchy swellings on the feet are becoming more common, and they're being called “COVID toes.”

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Skin doctors say coronavirus symptoms are popping up in unusual places like toes.

The most common coronavirus symptoms are: fever, a dry cough, and shortness of breath. As the virus continues to spread, less common symptoms like skin problems are occurring and greatly impacting feet, in what doctors are calling "COVID toes"

"It appears to be from very small blood clots in the toes. Just that this virus can affect multiple areas of our body,” said Denver Heart Dr. Sam Mehta.

Dr. Mehta said he's seen more cases of younger people with stroke symptoms related to coronavirus.

"So this has become a very clotting-prone disorder so blood clots in the legs and blood clots in the lungs,” Mehta said.

“COVID toes,” are red, sore, and sometimes itchy swellings on toes that look like chilblains, or small lesions caused by inflammation of tiny blood vessels after exposure to cold air.

Reports also show a growing number of cases of "multisystem inflammatory disease" similar to, Kawasaki disease, which is most common in children. It is characterized by fever, swollen lymph nodes, and inflammation in the eyes, mouth, and skin. 

It often follows a viral infection, but the exact cause is unknown.

"It’s like a shock syndrome and sometimes with some signs and symptoms that looked a little bit of what we can see in Kawasaki disease,” said Dr Jane Newberger of Boston Children's Hospital.

Coronavirus continues to prove to be much more than a traditional respiratory illness, with unusual symptoms being reported almost daily, including loss of taste and smell, and red or purplish patches seen on the feet of children and young adults, possibly caused by increased inflammation and clotting.

"Whether it's something directly from the virus causing our blood to clot, or our immune response and the lungs treating this causing it to clot, we don't know,” Dr. Mehta said.

The American Academy of Dermatology said don’t race to the emergency room yet if red toes are the only worry, a telemedicine call could first check if the issue is indeed “COVID toes." 

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