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New research finds that ‘COVID toes’ could last for 150 days

Analysis shows 1 patient reported ‘COVID toes’ for 130 days, another patient for 150 days

This April 3, 2020 photo provided by Northwestern University shows discoloration on a teenage patient's toes at the onset of the condition informally called "COVID toes." The red, sore and sometimes itchy swellings on toes look like chilblains, something doctors normally see on the feet and hands of people whove spent a long time outdoors in the cold. (Courtesy of Dr. Amy Paller/Northwestern University via AP)
This April 3, 2020 photo provided by Northwestern University shows discoloration on a teenage patient's toes at the onset of the condition informally called "COVID toes." The red, sore and sometimes itchy swellings on toes look like chilblains, something doctors normally see on the feet and hands of people whove spent a long time outdoors in the cold. (Courtesy of Dr. Amy Paller/Northwestern University via AP) (patient photo)

A new study finds that some “long-hauler” COVID-19 patients may experience prolonged skin symptoms, with one patient reporting “COVID toes” for as long as 150 days.

According to a report from TODAY.com, the analysis was conducted on patients listed in the International COVID-19 Dermatology Registry -- the world’s largest registry of coronavirus patients with dermatological symptoms.

“COVID toes,” are red, sore and sometimes itchy swellings on toes that look like chilblains, something doctors normally see on the feet and hands of people who’ve spent a long time outdoors in the cold.

“When we started looking at symptom duration, some of these patients are having really incredibly long-lasting symptoms,” said Dr. Esther Freeman, the principal investigator of the registry and the director of Global Health Dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “In particular, we saw that with chilblains, also known as COVID toes, where they’ve been having skin symptoms for more than 60 days.”

According to TODAY’s report, one patient reported “COVID toes” for over 130 days and another reported it for more than 150 days.

“They’ve had toe swelling and toe discoloration and toe pain for many months,” Freeman said. “They’ve had this really kind of persistent inflammation.”

Freeman said there is currently no known treatment.

Other skin symptoms include hives, lasting about five days, and scaly papule and plaques lasting for about 20 days. Freeman said about 16% of patients with “COVID toes” were hospitalized.

Freeman said despite the reports of long-lasting symptoms, it was only in a small number of patients and did not appear to lead to serious health risks.

“(COVID toes) go away relatively quickly, and they go away on their own, and they don’t seem to have a lot of long-lasting effect,” she said. “I don’t want people to panic. I think it’s important to be reassured that this is generally associated with pretty mild disease ... It’s just important to recognize that there is a subgroup of patients that seemed to have these really long-lasting persistent symptoms and that’s a group we need to further understand.”

Freeman said researchers also tracked other symptoms patients were experiencing such as coughs and persistent fatigue.

Click here to read the full report on TODAY.com.


About the Author:

DeJanay Booth joined WDIV as a web producer in July 2020. She previously worked as a news reporter in New Mexico before moving back to Michigan.