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Purple ‘COVID Toes’ Are a Symptom of the Coronavirus, Dermatologists Say

Doctors are beginning to learn more about the novel coronavirus, and with that, they are discovering new ways in which the virus might manifest.

The American Academy of Dermatology has put together an index of skin-related symptoms reported by coronavirus patients, including something called “COVID toes.” About half of the symptoms on the index, which can only be filled out by doctors, are related to the feet.

So-called COVID toes are reddish-pink lesions that can become purple over time. Doctors say the ailment tends to come after more common COVID-19 symptoms and has not appeared commonly in otherwise asymptomatic people. Additionally, dermatologists have noticed the symptom primarily in younger patients, who are in their 20s and 30s. 

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not presently warn Americans to look out for toe lesions, the CDC added six new symptoms today to its list of COVID-19 symptoms, including chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and a loss of taste or smell. These come in addition to fever, cough and shortness of breath/difficulty breathing.

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To prevent contracting the coronavirus, the CDC recommends that Americans practice social distancing and frequently wash or sanitize their hands. Additionally, people are advised to wear masks or other face coverings.

While the coronavirus primarily is spread from person-to-person contact, studies show that the virus can live on certain surfaces for numerous hours and may also travel on footwear.

In a study published in the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, researchers tested air and surface samples at a hospital in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus outbreak originated. The team found that about half of health-care professionals working in intensive care units carried the coronavirus on the soles of their shoes. Further, the report showed that there was a 100% positive rate from the floor of the pharmacy, where only health-care workers traveled, not infected patients.

To keep shoes made of fabrics like mesh or canvas clean,people can throw them in the washing machine. The United Kingdom’s National Health Service recommends washing fabrics at a high temperature (140°F) with a product containing bleach to enhance the disinfectant results. Although machine washing can damage shoes made of certain man-made materials, those shoes can be cleaned using soap and water or disinfectant such as Lysol.

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