Covid toes: Can the side effects of coronavirus turn your feet purple? - GulfToday

Covid toes: Can the side effects of coronavirus turn your feet purple?

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Throughout the pandemic, the main symptoms of the coronavirus stated by the health officials are high fever, loss of appetite, persistent cough, and loss or changed sense of smell and taste.

Scientists came across a very unusual side effect linked to the virus, called “Covid toes”.

Research by the International League of Dermatological Societies and the American Academy of Dermatology found that some coronavirus patients suffered from chilblain-like inflammation on their feet, which sometimes lasted for months at a time.

The unusual condition typically develops within a week to four weeks of being infected and can result in swelling of the toes or changing colour.

The feet returns to normal within weeks in majority cases and symptoms are said to be mild.

However, the scientists discovered in some cases, the inflammation continued more than 150 days.


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Principal investigator of the International Covid-19 Dermatology Registry, Dr Esther Freeman, said: “It seems there is a certain sub-group of patients that, when they get Covid, their toes get inflamed, which turns them red and swollen, and then they eventually turn purple.

“In most cases, it is self-resolved and it goes away. It is relatively mild. It lasts on average about 15 days. But we have seen patients lasting a month or two months.”

She added: “What is very surprising is when you get beyond that 60-day mark – because it’s not like patients are resolving at day 70.

“It’s the fact that some of our patients are at over 150 days now – these are patients with red or purple or swollen toes for many months.”

Around half of the patients in the registry are reported to have Covid toes and about 16 per cent of those had to be hospitalised as a result, the figures suggest.

Dr Freeman said the identification of people with Covid toes symptoms – including some in the UK – helps scientists understand more about coronavirus-related symptoms elsewhere in the body.

“We are starting to see long Covid in other organ systems, this is the first time we are recognising this can happen in the skin as well,” Dr Freeman explained.

“I think it raises a lot of questions about what sort of inflammation is going on – is there inflammation elsewhere in the body? We don’t really know the answer yet.

“The skin can be viewed as a window into the rest of the body because it is inflammation which you can see – and can be indicative of inflammation elsewhere.”

The figures are submitted by doctors treating patients with skin issues in dozens of countries around the world, meaning there are potentially numerous people with Covid toes who have not sought medical help.

Dr Freeman said that what her team is reporting is “probably just the tip of the iceberg”.

In addition to Covid toes, people around the world have reported experiencing various other side effects they believe could be linked to the virus, including delirium, conjunctivitis and diarrhoea.

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