People infected with coronavirus may experience a new symptom where their toes become red and swollen, scientists say.

Scientists have found some who suffer from the virus can develop chilblain-like inflammation in their feet which could last for months.

The condition, called COVID toes, typically develops within a week to four weeks of being infected with coronavirus.

Research by the International League of Dermatological Societies and the American Academy of Dermatology found symptoms are mostly mild and feet return to normal within weeks.

But scientists have discovered about one in six people require hospital treatment, whilst some of those with 'long COVID' symptoms report cases lasting for several months.

The Argus: "Covid toe" is a rash that can look like chilblains. Credit: COVID-PIEL STUDY"Covid toe" is a rash that can look like chilblains. Credit: COVID-PIEL STUDY

Dr Esther Freeman, from the International COVID-19 Dermatology Registry, the collaboration between the two research bodies, said: “It seems there is a certain sub-group of patients that, when they get Covid, they develop inflammation in their toes, which turns them red and swollen, and then they eventually turn purple.

“In most cases, it is self-resolved and it goes away. It is relatively mild.

“It lasts on average about 15 days. But we have seen patients lasting a month or two months.”

She added: “What is very surprising is when you get beyond that 60-day mark – because it’s not like patients are resolving at day 70.

“It’s the fact that some of our patients are at over 150 days now – these are patients with red or purple or swollen toes for many months.”


Dr Freeman said the identification of people with COVID toes- including some in the UK- helps scientists understand more about coronavirus elsewhere in the body.

She said: “We are starting to see long COVID in other organ systems, this is the first time we are recognising this can happen in the skin as well.

“I think it raises a lot of questions about what sort of inflammation is going on – is there inflammation elsewhere in the body?

“We don’t really know the answer yet.

“The skin can be viewed as a window into the rest of the body because it is inflammation which you can see – and can be indicative of inflammation elsewhere.”