COVID-19, the infectious ailment instigated by the SARS-CoV-2 strain of coronavirus, primarily gives rise to respiratory complaints such as dry cough, sore throat, fever, chills, runny nose and in more grave instances, even chest pain and breathing trouble. And in the course of the past year and a half, the causative agent – SARS-CoV-2 viral vector, has mutated and presented itself with alterations in its spike protein configurations worldwide, with three COVID-19 variants emerging in India as well.
While this is characteristic of all viruses, a distinct aspect of COVID-19 is that it has also manifested an array of symptoms besides those restricted to the upper respiratory tract of the nose, throat and lungs. These comprise, among others such as COVID tongue, conjunctivitis, brain fog, a unique indication known as COVID toes. Owing to its presence only in superficial skin tissues, COVID toes is considered a dermatological sign of COVID-19 and grouped with other skin concerns of coronavirus such as rashes, blisters and hives.
Salient Details About COVID Toes:
What Are COVID Toes?
COVID Toes is a symptom of coronavirus and as the name suggests, arises predominantly in the toes, but is sometimes seen in the fingers too. These first appear as red zones and then subsequently develop into a purple discolouration on the toes. They show up either as just dark-hued patches on the toes or are at times accompanied by swollen bumps, blisters, pus, itching and irritation in the affected areas of the skin. Physicians often compare the attributes of COVID toes to features seen in frostbite and Raynaud’s disease.
Why Do COVID Toes Develop In Coronavirus Patients?
Although the exact reason behind the appearance of COVID toes has not been determined and is still being investigated, some doctors and medical researchers have listed certain factors that usually trigger discolouration in the extremities backed by science. During a viral infection such as COVID-19, the response of the immune system while combating the disease also prompts the occurrence of rashes and dark spots on the skin, which lead to COVID toes. Moreover, when SARS-CoV-2 viral particles invade the body via the skin, inflammatory reactions happen at the site of virus entry that induces COVID toes.
Who Is More At Risk Of Acquiring COVID Toes?
COVID toes can arise in corona positive patients of all age groups, but certain individuals are more prone to contracting this symptom. This includes babies and children who have very delicate skin tissues compared to adults and thus tend to acquire rashes and discolouration in the toes as a result of COVID-19 infection. In addition to this, adults with diabetes and elderly people have lowered immunity, fragile skin tissues and a slow rate of wound healing, which triggers COVID toes, cuts and bumps on the skin.
How Long Do COVID Toes Persist In Patients?
COVID toes usually last for up to 14 days in those with COVID-19 and in some instances, disappear significantly earlier after about 7 – 10 days from the onset of coronavirus infection. COVID toes can present as simply discoloured segments in the skin tissues in the feet, or occur alongside swelling, scratches, itching, blisters and even as pus-filled boils, but do not pose any other serious consequences. However, upon observing any unusual dark regions in the toes or even fingers, it is important to get tested for COVID-19 at once and if the results are positive, get appropriate medical treatment based on the intensity of disease – asymptomatic, mild, moderate, severe or critical.
What Remedies Are Given To Resolve COVID Toes?
COVID toes that are merely discoloured patches of skin on the toes or fingers do not need to be treated separately and generally diminish upon taking medications prescribed by the doctor to treat COVID-19 infection. But if they cause pain and incessant itching due to swollen bumps, pus, rashes, the healthcare provider recommends the use of ice packs on the affected region to soothe tenderness, discomfort and prescribes topical ointments, oral supplements to rectify COVID toes.