BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Danielle Reidy had just returned home from a trip to Morocco when the big toe on her left foot began to itch.

“I remember having one day when I was leaving the house and I had my foot in a shoe and I felt like I had to take my foot out and scratch it,” she recalled.

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A week later, all of the tips of the toes on her left foot were itching, irritated and inflamed.

Wondering what the cause could be, Reidy turned to the internet.


“The first thing that popped up was this presentation of COVID-19 showing up as itchy toes,” she said.

A teenage patient’s foot as pictured on April 3, 2020, at the onset of the skin condition being informally called “COVID toes.” (Photo courtesy of Dr. Amy Paller, Northwestern University)

It’s a condition known as COVID toes.

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Reidy tested negative for the coronavirus, but her dermatologist, Dr. Tola Oyesanya, said a negative test doesn’t necessarily mean she didn’t have it.

“The young healthy patients that tend to have this condition, they tend to develop this late into their disease course,” she said. “So if they were having low-grade symptoms, maybe around day 9, day 10 is when they develop these changes in the toes, and if those patients are then sent for a COVID-19 test, we’re finding that most of those patients are actually testing negative.”

It’s still unclear why exactly COVID toes happen, but they tend to occur in patients with milder symptoms and in younger patients, Oyesanya said.

“Most patients that have these toe findings are not becoming very very sick, they’re not systemically ill, they’re not having symptoms that are driving them to the hospital. They just have low-grade symptoms if they have symptoms at all,” she said.

That was the case for Reidy.

“It wasn’t really until I called my doctors that I was comforted into like, ‘Okay, we’ve seen this, and it looks like this is sort of a mild presentation and ultimately you’ll be okay,'” she said.

Oyesanya said anyone who thinks they have COVID toes should contact their doctor. They can usually be addressed through a telemedicine appointment.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Sean Streicher