Most people know the main symptoms of Covid by now: a dry cough, fever, and a loss of taste or sense of smell. But did you know that Covid-19 can also affect your skin? For some people, so-called ‘Covid toes’ may be the only sign of a coronavirus infection. Mr Pal Ramesh, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, tells us what he’s been seeing and hearing.
What are Covid toes?
Doctors around the world have noticed that some patients who test positive for Covid-19 have been developing discoloured, inflamed and swollen toes, and sometimes fingers, commonly called Covid toes. From what we know, it seems that most people develop this only on their toes, hence the term “Covid toes.”
This can be one or more toes, leading to discolouration (red or blue).
They are normally painless but some of the toes can have swelling and itching or blisters.
Who tends to develop Covid toes?
While Covid toes can appear at any age, children, teenagers, and young adults seem most likely to develop this condition. These young patients are healthy. Many never develop other, more common symptoms of Covid-19, such as a dry cough, fever, and muscle aches. When they do have symptoms of Covid-19, the symptoms tend to be mild.
Possible theories for Covid toes
As this is a new symptom there is still a lot of research taking place to understand its causes. Some theories for Covid toes include:
- viral infections can lead to rashes in the skin
- viral particles could be deposited in the skin, eliciting reaction
- most possible reason is inflammation of blood vessels-called vasculitis
It seems that Covid toes appear in later stages of covid and recovery, they are therefore unlikely to be contagious as previously mentioned.
How long do Covid toes symptoms last?
More information is needed to know for sure. Right now however, reports suggest that a rash typically lasts between 2 and 12 days, with most people having a rash for 8 days. In some cases though, the symptoms can persist for months.
What can I do if I have Covid toes?
COVID-19 is a new disease, so doctors are still learning about it. Dermatologists are leading the effort to find out exactly how the coronavirus affects the skin. In the first instance use Hydrocortisone cream to relieve any itching. Also continue to monitor and observe the symptoms.