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What Are ‘COVID Toes'? Questions Resurface After Aaron Rodgers Comment

In his Tuesday appearance on "The Pat McAfee Show," Aaron Rodgers mentioned that he has "COVID toe"

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Questions surrounding a skin condition in toes believed to be linked to coronavirus have resurfaced after Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he was experiencing what's now known as "COVID toes."

In his Tuesday appearance on "The Pat McAfee Show," Rodgers mentioned that he has "COVID toe."

One day later, as Rodgers continues to deal with a nagging toe injury, he revealed he wasn't actually suffering from the condition. The Green Bay Packers quarterback spoke with reporters on Wednesday, and clarified, saying that he actually has a fractured toe.

COVID toe is a painful skin condition that stems from the body's immune response to COVID-19.

Cases of the mysterious skin condition that causes purple, blue or red discoloration in toes and occasionally fingers began popping up around the country early on during the pandemic, according to Northwestern doctors, leading some dermatologists to wonder if it may be connected to coronavirus.

The bizarre symptom, which in some cases can last for months, has been reported throughout the pandemic, though COVID toes are not as prevalent as other common symptoms associated with the virus.

Doctors said the condition appears similar to one known as pernio, which happens in response to cold, but "COVID toes" varies from bright red to purple and affects broader areas of the toes and sometimes even the bottoms of feet and fingers. Feet can occasionally become itchy, painful or may show no other symptoms besides discoloration.

Images from Northwestern show the progression of "COVID toes" from April 3 (left) to April 6 (middle) to April 21 (right).

"We think something like this may be happening in response to the inflammation, perhaps caused as part of the response to the COVID-19 virus," Dr. Amy Paller, a dermatologist for Northwestern Medicine said.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, many people "only realize that they have COVID toes when they see the discoloration and swelling on their feet (or hands)."

"Along with the swelling and discoloration, COVID toes can also cause blisters, itch, or pain," the group's website reads. "Some people develop painful raised bumps or areas of rough skin. Others may see a small amount of pus under their skin. Sometimes, people who have COVID toes have other symptoms of COVID-19."

An analysis conducted last fall showed that "long-hauler" COVID-19 patients may experience prolonged skin symptoms, with one patient reporting having "COVID toes" for nearly six months.

The analysis was conducted on patients listed on the International COVID-19 Dermatology Registry, the world's largest registry of coronavirus patients with dermatological symptoms. Nearly 1,000 cases are registered from patients in 39 countries.

While most dermatological symptoms lasted an average of 12 days, some patients reported longer durations.

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