Thankfully, children seem to be less affected by the coronavirus than adults — but that also means they are potentially oblivious spreaders.
A mysterious symptom may be the only sign of coronavirus in young people.
Doctors have discovered many younger patients are suffering from “COVID toes” — a series of red lesions or painful bumps on the feet.
Dr. Amy Paller, chair of the Department of Dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, is one of the medical experts who has witnessed the as-yet unexplained malady in otherwise asymptomatic youngsters.
“These are individuals who are often without any other sign of viral infection,” she said. “We are seeing this in unprecedented numbers.”
Although they aren’t sure of the cause, experts think it may be happening in response to the inflammation caused as part of the response to the COVID-19 virus.
“We don’t know for sure if it’s related to COVID-19, but when it’s so common right now during a pandemic and is occurring in otherwise asymptomatic or mildly affected patients, it seems too much of a coincidence not to be a manifestation of the virus for patients in their teens and 20s,” she added, per NBC Chicago.
If you are treating patients with acute coronary syndromes or acute strokes in the ED, you may want to quickly look for COVID Toes and Fingers, a clue indicating possible COVID-19 infection and need for enhanced PPE and precautions. https://t.co/oyBgQQk9Hq pic.twitter.com/9qyKKAEG0k
— Luciano Sposato (@SposatoL) April 19, 2020
— Peter Higgins (@ibddoctor) April 19, 2020
“Are #covidtoes the new anosmia?”
Nice work @DrEstherFreeman and @lindyfox1 representing the @AADskin effort in characterizing #covid19 #dermatology findings!#dermtwitter #medtwitter @AADmember @MedDermSoc @DermHospitalist https://t.co/HMUXwW1IX5
— Steven Chen (@DrStevenTChen) April 17, 2020
She said the lesions are “Sometime itchy, often times painful,” can appear on the top or bottom of the foot, on just one toe or all of them, and can turn from red to purple.
Thankfully, the symptom is as bad as it gets for most young people who display it, and typically does not herald a worsening condition; in fact, evidence suggest ‘COVID toes’ occurs when a patient is recovering from the virus.
“None of these teens or young adults have gone on to have any serious issues,” Dr Paller said. “They seem to resolve after a few weeks.”
“Many have had some mild viral symptoms in the week before and it might be a sign during the ‘convalescent’ healing period when no longer contagious,” she added. “We won’t understand the association until we can test this more broadly.”
However, with testing still limited, Dr Paller accepts that proving a correlation between the two may be difficult.
“We really need to save resources,” she said. “And we can’t be sending people who don’t have the classic signs for that kind of testing.”
She advised parents not to panic if they see the symptom on its own, and to photograph and document it.
She suggested otherwise healthy patents could get the antibody test where and when available; however if parents are concerned they should always contact their pediatrician.