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Difference Between Covid Toes and Athlete’s Foot

Covid toes is a condition where toes of coronavirus patients swell up and turn red. Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the feet and toes.

What is Covid Toes


Covid toes are a condition that can occur in some people with Covid-19 in which the toes and sometimes also the fingers swell up and turn red or purple in color.


The cause of covid toes is thought to be related to inflammatory reactions that occur during coronavirus disease in some people. 

Symptoms and diagnosis:

Toes, and occasionally also the fingers become swollen and red in color. The digits are also painful and may itch. The condition is diagnosed by noting the appearance of the toes and fingers and by the person testing positive for Covid-19.


Usually, Covid toes resolve on their own and do not require any specific type of treatment. People with the condition may prefer to not wear shoes while their toes are swollen and sore.

What is Athlete’s Foot?


Athlete’s foot is an infection of the foot and toes caused by the fungus Tinea. 


The cause of athlete’s foot is exposure to surfaces where Tinea fungus occurs, including moist public areas such as gym locker rooms. Walking barefoot and not drying the feet properly after walking barefoot in public locker rooms can result in athlete’s foot.

Symptoms and diagnosis:

The symptoms most commonly involve areas between the toes but can extend to the toes and parts of the foot depending on the extent of the infection. Signs of the fungal infection include scaly thickened patches of skin and red areas, most often between individual toes. Thick, scaly skin can also occur on the soles of the feet. Diagnosis is by clinical exam and by making a slide of a skin sample. The fungus shows up under a microscope after the sample has been treated with potassium hydroxide.


Treatment involves keeping the feet and toes dry and using topical and oral antifungal medications.

Difference betweenCovid Toes and Athlete’s Foot


Covid toes is a condition in which people with Covid-19 develop red, swollen toes. Athlete’s foot is a condition in which people develop a fungal infection of the toes and feet.


A Covid-19 virus inflammatory response is the most probable cause of Covid toes. A Tinea fungal infection is the cause of athlete’s foot.


Covid toes is diagnosed after a clinical exam and noting the symptoms. Athlete’s foot is diagnosed after a clinical exam and after looking at a sample of skin under the microscope.


Symptoms of Covid toes include toes that are red, swollen, itchy, and sore. Symptoms of athlete’s foot include thick, scaly, and red patches of skin between the toes and on the feet.


No treatment is needed for Covid toes; they resolve once the person recovers from the viral illness. Athlete’s foot is treated by keeping the toes and feet dry and using both oral and topical antifungal medications.

Table comparing Covid Toes and Athlete’s Foot

Summary of Covid Toes Vs. Athlete’s Foot

  • Covid toes and athlete’s foot are both conditions that impact the toes in some way.
  • While Covid toes is a result of infection with the coronavirus, athlete’s foot is an infection with a fungus of Tinea species.
  • Covid toes resolve on their own without treatment.
  • Athlete’s foot is best treated with antifungal medications.


What are some of the most common symptoms of the coronavirus disease? 

The most common symptoms of Covid-19 include fever, dry cough, fatigue, and muscle aches and pains.

How long does it take for COVID-19 symptoms to occur after exposure?

Symptoms of Covid-19 can begin anytime from two days up to two weeks after the person is exposed to the virus.

Which organs are most affected by COVID-19?

The lungs are the most commonly affected organs because the virus specifically attaches to receptors that are abundant on the surfaces of the air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs.

Do I need to be hospitalized if I have mild COVID-19 symptoms?

A person with mild symptoms of the illness such as a mild fever and slight cough, does not need to go the hospital; however, if symptoms worsen then it may become necessary particularly if a person has trouble breathing and if oxygen levels in the body drop.

What are the common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

The most common side effects of a Covid vaccine include pain at the injection site, headache, fever and chills, body aches and pains, diarrhea, and fatigue.

How long are people with COVID-19 infectious?

People who are infected with the Covid-19 virus often remain infectious for about 10 days after their symptoms begin.

What should I do if I received positive test result for COVID-19?

If you have tested positive for the virus you need to avoid contact with other people and self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days. An infected person must not go to work or out into the public and must take steps to reduce transmission to others who may be living in the same household. 

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References :

[0]Aaron, Denise M. “Tinea pedis (Athlete’s foot)”. Merck Manual, 2021, https://www.msdmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic-disorders/fungal-skin-infections/tinea-pedis-athletes-foot

[1]Cappel, Mark A., Jonathan A. Cappel, and David A. Wetter. "Pernio (Chilblains), SARS-CoV-2, and COVID Toes Unified Through Cutaneous and Systemic Mechanisms." Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Elsevier, 2021.

[2]Stanborough, Rebecca J. “COVID Toes: What to Know About This Rare Symptom of Infection.” Healthline, 2020, https://www.healthline.com/health/covid-toe-rash

[3]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Athlete%27s_foot.JPG

[4]Image credit: http://images.gmanews.tv/webpics/2020/08/Covid_fingerd_and_toes_2020_08_14_09_53_29.jpg

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