What is Covid toe – what causes it and how can it be treated?

By Benjamin Lynch

A dry cough, tiredness, a loss of smell or taste, a high temperature are all common symptoms of the coronavirus. But what about reddening toes?

Research - from a newly published study that focused on the symptoms - has indicated that, aside from the most regular side effects of having Covid-19, one of the body's responses can be swollen or reddening extremities such as your toes.

A consultant and spokesperson for the British Skin Foundation, Dr Veronique Bataille, said the rash has been less common in cases where people have contracted the Delta Variant, which occurred as the virus mutated and developed.

This condition was seen therefore seen more commonly earlier on in the pandemic.

Though it can be hard to spot, in August, people were warned to watch out for 21 possible symptoms of the virus, even those who have been double vaccinated.

What are the symptoms of Covid?

There are 21 symptoms of Covid-19 (Gado via Getty Images)

The full list of symptoms is as follows:

  1. High temperature
  2. Chills or shivers
  3. Persistent cough
  4. Loss or change of smell
  5. Loss or change of taste
  6. Headache
  7. Unusual tiredness
  8. Sore throat
  9. Sudden confusion
  10. Skin rash
  11. Changes in mouth or tongue
  12. Red and sore fingers or toes
  13. Shortness of breath
  14. Chest pains
  15. Muscle pains
  16. Hoarse voice
  17. Diarrhoea
  18. Skipped meals
  19. Abdominal pains
  20. Runny nose
  21. Sneezing

What is Covid toes?

Covid toes give you 'chilblain-like' inflammation on the hands and feet and it can last for up to months at a time (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Covid toes give you 'chilblain-like' inflammation on the hands and feet and it can last for up to months at a time.

Chilblains are small, itchy, red patches that can appear after a person has been in the cold.

It usually occurs within four weeks of contracting the virus and can go unnoticed by some, while others may find persistent itchiness.

Senior author of the study, Dr Charles Cassius, said the research provided a deeper understanding of the condition.

"The epidemiology and clinical features of chilblain-like lesions have been extensively studied and published, however, little is known about the pathophysiology involved," he said.

Researchers looked at 50 different participants in the study.

The condition seems to be caused by the body reacting to the virus in a certain way in that it uses an immune response with high levels of a particular antibody, which mistakenly target with the host's own cells, as well as the virus.

The study said : "SARS-CoV-2 infection seems to be associated with vascular skin symptoms and has been shown to damage capillary endothelium and disrupt the thrombo-protective state of endothelial cells."

Essentially, Covid-19 can heighten the likelihood of rash-like symptoms in certain cases.

Treatments for Covid toes

Applying hydrocortisone could help with Covid toes (BBC)

The American Academy of Dermatology say that to reduce any pain or itching, applying hydrocortisone could help.

It is not a condition that needs to be treated, if any cream makes it worse then you should contact your GP.

There is no set guideline for how long the condition lasts, but it is expected to last 10 to 14 days. You may want to seek treatment from your GP if it lasts longer than this and if it is itchy.

Here's what to look out for if you have a rash after having Covid:

  • Patchy rash

  • Itchy bumps

  • Blisters that look like chickenpox

  • Round, pinpoint spots on the skin

  • Large patch with several smaller ones

  • A lace-like pattern on the skin

  • Flat spots and raised bumps that join together


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