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‘Covid toe’ condition

Date: 04 May 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous


Researchers have discovered “unexplained” skin manifestations in Covid-19 patients. Researchers have described five clinical patterns, including the so-called ‘covid toe’, that they observed in 19 per cent of the cases examined.



The most common symptoms of Covid-19 are well known by now, these include fever, dry cough, sore throat and muscle pain among others. But emerging research has pointed out some other symptoms as well, which include the loss of smell and taste, confusion, stroke and seizures reported in a small subset of patients infected with the virus.



  • ‘Covid toe’ is a kind of rash being reported as a manifestation in some Covid-19 patients’ toes. In the aforementioned study, it was seen in 19 per cent of the cases and the researchers have likened it to pseudo-chilblain lesions.

  • Of the 71 cases that had these pseudo-chilblains, 29 (41 per cent) had confirmed SARS-CoV-2, the virus strain that causes Covid-19.

  • Chilblains are small, itchy, red patches that appear on the toes and fingers after a person has been exposed to the cold. A person with chilblains may see their toes and fingers swell up and become red.

  • The condition occurs due to inflammation in the small blood vessels in the skin, a response to repeated exposure to cold air. Chilblains usually clear up within one-three weeks on their own.

  • Research is only still emerging and it cannot be said with certainty if these pseudo-chilblain lesions are associated with Covid-19. In the study, researchers have said that the lesions could be associated with the disease since they presented themselves in patients during warm weather.

  • Dermatologists perceived a greatly increased incidence and these patients frequently had Covid-19 contacts. Further, only one of the 71 patients with pseudo-chilblains had a previous history of the disease.

  • However, researchers caution that since these lesions appear later in the evolution of the disease and are less commonly associated with virologic confirmation, it is possible that the condition may not be related to Covid-19 at all.

  • Therefore, for skin rashes such as “covid toe” to be used for diagnosis, more such studies are required to establish a link between the two, if any.

  • A 1966 paper published in Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews says that rashes accompanying infectious diseases date back to ancient times and are one of the most characteristic and “readily observed” signs of disease. For instance, chickenpox, which is a contagious viral disease causes itchy, fluid-filled blisters on the skin.

  • Rubella, another viral disease also leads to skin rashes, which are typically the first sign of infection among children.

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