Ever since the highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 virus first came into existence, there has been an evolution of the symptoms during the first and second waves. Every other day, unusual symptoms of the virus keeping cropping up even in those recovered from the infection completely. Right from skin infections, allergies, gastrointestinal issues, fatigue, loss of sense of smell or taste, dental problems, headache, loss of hair, nail changes, these tell-tale signs often represent what we now know as Long Covid.
Well, one of the discovered symptoms in many coronavirus cases after recovery suggest the role of the infection on the nail bed as well. And this unusual symptom is termed by doctors and scientists as Covid Nails.
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Let this article be an eye-opener as to what exactly is Covid Nails and how to identify one.
What Are Covid Nails?
Well, just like the skin function as a mirror revealing the severity of systemic diseases in the absence of other symptoms and signs, several studies disclose that even nail changes can serve as a danger sign and tell a lot about our overall health and wellness.
Covid-19 infection usually characterize on the nail in the form of beau lines or transverse grooves on the nail plate, a horizontal red band surrounding the end margin of the nail´s white crescent or sudden cracking and shedding of nails.
What Are The Nail Markers Of Covid-19 Infection?
While Beau’s line isn’t something new and its correlation to Covid-19 infection is yet unknown, yet several experts believe that the extreme stress or illness that patients undergo during this lethal infection takes a toll on overall body health and hence can very well impact on the nails.
The red half-moon nail sign, which signifies the horizontal red band that surrounds the end margin of the nail´s white crescent is mainly thought to be associated with a microvascular injury or an inflammatory immune response against an infection.
Apart from beau’s line, the nails can even show transverse orange nail lesions suggesting a systemic illness or inhibition of the nail’s natural proliferation causing a separation of the nail plate from the bed which eventually leads to shedding, or medically termed as onychomadesis.
How Does Covid Nails Look Like?
According to several case studies, Covid nails can often come up weeks or months after fighting the virus during the recovery period. Not only can the infection affect the nail bed but the toes as well. However, the most characteristic marker of this side-effect due to the Covid-19 infection is the 'grooves', usually white and occasionally orange in colour that runs across the nail plate.
The characteristic Beau’s line usually appears in the form of ridges, grooves or indentations, and chiefly shows up on more than one nail plate at a time.
But experts have also mentioned that this unusual symptom of Covid Nails is not reported by each and every patient suffering from the infection. While some may have characteristic distinct nail symptoms, others may not even have any noticeable signs on the nail bed.
What Causes Covid Nails?
The nail markers of the Covid infection can appear due to a number of factors. Discolouration, indentations or shredding can chiefly occur due to viral infections, severe illness, and autoimmune comorbidities like uncontrolled diabetes or some chronic vascular diseases.
But according to experts, the nail symptoms due to Covid-19 can occur due to an intense inflammatory immune response that acts up on the skin, much similar to other skin infections arising due to Covid. Since this deadly infection takes a long time to heal completely, along with the overall health, the nails are badly impacted as well. Even use of certain medications for the recovery from this infection can lead to Covid nails.
Can Covid Nails Be Fixed?
Since, the nail markers are a reminder of a previous systemic infection of medication, doctors suggest that the people recovering from Covid need to be patient and let the nails grow out naturally. An entire nail takes about 6 months to grow and replace itself which naturally removes any previous grooves or indentations from the infection. However, if the marks on the nail bed persist even after a matter of 6 months, do consult a dermatologist to understand the underlying cause.