During the COVID-19 pandemic, a strange foot problem has come up that has caught the attention of podiatrists, doctors, and scientists. Some people who get the virus end up with a condition called Covid toe or Covid toes.
This may come as a surprise to you. After all, the World Health Organization makes it clear that coronavirus is mostly linked to signs of respiratory illness like coughing. But doctors have been talking about and researching Covid toe since the beginning of the pandemic. (Health.com says it was first talked about in April 2020.)
Also, research that came out in October of this year showed that there is a clear link between getting Covid toe and the way some people’s immune systems fight off COVID-19. We’ll talk more about this later.
The Signs of a Covid Toe: Redness, Swelling, and More
Covid toe can happen to one toe or more than one. The problem can also happen to your fingers.
What are the most important signs?
- Skin discolouration – some or all of the toe turns deep red, purple or bluish and may look bruised
- Burning sensation
- Rough areas, lumps and blisters (pus may be present)
- Pain, soreness and tenderness
The covid toe looks like chilblains
If you look at the Covid toe pictures on Healthline, you’ll see that the condition is comparable to chilblains, which are red, itchy sores that show up on your fingers and toes after you’ve been in a cold, damp place for a long time.
Chilblains affect a lot of people, especially in the fall and winter. They happen a lot more than Covid toe. But keep in mind that Covid toe could be to blame if you get sores that look like chilblains even though you haven’t been in cold weather.
Even if you feel fine, you may have Covid toe. People with this foot issue often don’t have the main signs of a COVID-19 infection.
It primarily affects young people.
If Covid toe gets really bad, like if blisters form on the bottom of your toes, it may hurt too much to wear shoes or move around. Covid toe can be painful and make it hard to walk, just like gout. BBC News talked about a 13-year-old girl who has severe Covid toe and uses a wheelchair because her feet hurt so much.
Even though it can happen to people of any age, teenagers and children are most likely to get it.
The BBC says that people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 are less likely to get covid toe.
For months, the aetiology of Covid toe and why certain COVID-19-infected persons get it were unknown. The British Journal of Dermatology has released Covid toe research from the University of Paris.
13 persons with chilblain-like lesions before COVID-19 also participated. Based on skin and blood testing, Covid toe arises when the body’s immune system responds quickly and strongly to the virus. Not COVID-19.
Covid toe occurs when your antibodies target your cells, not just the virus, causing inflammation. It also means your body has produced too many Type I interferons, which can cause skin problems in huge amounts (as the Royal College of Podiatry pointed out earlier this year).
Poor circulation in the toes makes it easy for well-meaning but problem-causing antibodies and interferons to stay there, creating Covid toe.
If you have symptoms of Covid toe, Louisa Seymour can help. We can figure out what’s wrong and suggest ways to make you feel better.