Doctors research ‘COVID toes’ theory in hopes to find new coronavirus clue

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Doctors treating coronavirus patients have reported cases of unusual skin issues that they said resembles frostbite.

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One coronavirus patient in Los Angeles, identified by ABC 7 as Jessica, said she initially had a cough and fever. But she noticed something else that was troubling: her feet were irritated and she was in pain.

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“I looked down, I was getting in the shower, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, my toe is turning blue,” she said. “I felt like I had really bad blisters on it.”

Dr. Esther Freeman, a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, told NBC’s “Today” that “COVID toes” may be linked to the virus. She said “purple lesions” could suddenly appear either on your feet or hands. She said the theory should be tested, because the so-called “COVID toes” may appear with or without other symptoms.

“One hypothesis is there’s just a  lot of inflammation caused by the virus,” she said. The other theory is that it could be the result of blood vessel clots.

“I don’t feel comfortable saying it’s one or the other,” she said.

Since there is no vaccine or cure, doctors are working to prevent the spread of the virus. One of the challenging attributes of coronavirus is that a carrier could be asymptomatic and unknowingly spread the disease.

As of early Monday, the U.S. has 759,766 cases and over 40,000 deaths. The virus has shut down much of the economy and in the past few weeks forced millions of Americans to file for unemployment.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention does not list any kind of skin irregularity as a coronavirus symptom. The Miami Herald reported that Spain also opened a registry after reports from podiatrists that infected patients had lesions on their feet.

The American Academy of Dermatology has opened a nationwide registry to track potential skin issues linked to the coronavirus.

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“We’re noticing that a lot of these individuals, once we believe that they have some systemic symptoms and should be tested, they’re testing positive,” Dr. Marjon Vatanchi, of Brown University Dermatology, told WLNE. “So now when we’re seeing these findings in individuals with no symptoms, we’re asking them to be tested and they’re coming back as COVID positive.”

Doctors are working to determine if newly found skin issues could be a sign of coronavirus infection.