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COVID Toes

“COVID toes” the new COVID-19 mystery symptom explained

Over the past few months, coronavirus has taken over the world, impacting almost every country. As the number of cases surge past 1.44 million in the country itself as of July 2020, the spectrum of disease presentation has widened as well. Currently, Haryana has recorded over 30,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases (20% of which are in Gurgaon).  

As our knowledge of the virus and the infection it causes increases, a number of unheard symptoms have come into light. Symptoms involving the foot and ankle region is one such rare manifestation of COVID-19. Before we start discussing uncommon symptoms of the “coronavirus disease” it is important to keep in mind the common symptoms to take the necessary precautions and isolate ourselves at the earliest.  

What are the common symptoms of COVID-19? 

Everyone wants clarity on the exact symptoms which can help indicate coronavirus infections in its early stages. As we still have no cure for COVID-19, symptomatic treatment is the only treatment protocol. Hence, early detection and treatment gives the patient the best chance for quick recovery. Early detection is also essential in preventing further spread of the virus as it helps isolating the infected person before he/she can spread it to too many people. Some of the common symptoms that may indicate COVID-19 are: 

  • Fever and chills 
  • Muscle pain 
  • Difficulty in breathing 
  • Sore throat 
  • Loss of senses (to taste or to smell) 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 

Of late, a new term called COVID toes has been making rounds. Is it related to coronavirus or just a simple foot problem? Read ahead to find answers to such perplexing questions.  

Read: What is Coronavirus: symptoms | how it spreads | how to avoid it

COVID toes – a mystery symptom 

According to a research conducted by doctors in Spain, there have been nearly 5 different patterns of rashes associated with COVID-19. The one rash that has got the most attention despite it not being the most common rash is “COVID toes”- a foot problem similar to Chilblains. Chilblains are an inflammation of the toes that cause pain, redness and itchiness, which usually occurs in the winter due to a prolonged exposure to cold. The rashes observed in coronavirus patients however, have no relation to exposure to cold. These may manifest before or weeks after the appearance of the more common symptoms  

COVID toes are seen more commonly in younger people and can fade away in a couple of weeks. Experts say that they have observed an increase in the number of patients complaining of lesions and inflammation of the toes, making it painful to walk. The exact cause of these lesions is still a mystery and further research is required for a conclusion.  

Observations of COVID toes 

The most surprising observation in this study was various rashes caused by a single virus. Similar to AIDS and syphilis, COVID-19 is called the New “Great Mimicker” due to the number of rashes associated with it. As these symptoms are not common and prevalent in COVID patients, it is not added in the list of common symptoms.  At the moment, the symptoms of flu and respiratory problems are still considered primary symptoms. Despite being seen very often in Spain and the US, COVID toes have not been seen in patients in India

If you are experiencing any rashes in your feet or toes, visit your doctor. Even though this is not a definite indicator of COVID-19, it can cause difficulty in walking. Also getting a medical opinion about any unexplained rash or swelling will always be in your best interest. This is the time to be cautious, vigilant and safe.  

Read: Common foot problem One should not ignore

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Author: Dr Anuj Chawla
Dr. Anuj Chawla is a distinguished orthopaedic surgeon with over 15 years of experience across several reputed institutions across the globe. He specializes in foot and ankle disorders, sports injuries, and geriatric trauma.
 
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