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Coronavirus Update: Virus May Have A New Symptom -- What Is 'COVID Toe'

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Swollen, inflamed, and puffy red toes are common when exposed to cold and damp conditions, but doctors are noticing a spike at the wrong time.

"In the past two weeks I've seen more toes in my clinic than I have in the rest of my entire career combined," said Dr. Ester Freeman, the Director of Massachusetts General Hospital Global Health Dermatology Director.

"We are seeing something that is a real trend and tells us about the prevalence of infection in our communities," said Dr. Lindy Fox, a dermatologist at UCSF.

What's unclear is when these lesions might appear if someone has been exposed to coronavirus.

"We are seeing some reports that patients are seeing these toe lesions at the same time as they're developing other COVID-19 symptoms," Freeman said. "Some patients seem to be completely asymptomatic except for the toe lesions, while others seem to develop the lesions a month after they've been infected."

"If doctors or family members were to see this with the information that we have now, Ii would go get testing for COVID-19," said Dr. Matthew Spinelli of UCSF School of Medicine.

"If they do have the skin finding most likely the body has seen COVID and it's in the recovery phase," said Dr. Fox.

Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms.

"The important public health message is not to panic. Most of the patients with these Pernio-like lesions or these purple-like lesions or 'Covid toes', we're seeing they are doing extremely well," said Dr. Freeman.

Doctors say those who are getting this tend to be young and healthy. They do not recommend going to the emergency room but instead to contact your doctor or dermatologist and to be aware that you could be infectious.

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