The Mystery of ‘COVID Toes’

During the winter of 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was noticed that a lot of people with COVID-19 were also getting chilblains on their feet, along with a lot of other much more serious medical problems. Chilblains are a common condition of the toes during the colder months and it was initially unsure if this was just a co-incidence that it was also appearing in those with COVID-19, but subsequent research has shown that it was not a coincidence and chilblains or lesions that resemble chilblains are more common in those with COVID-19, giving rise to the term, ‘COVID Toes’.

What is not so clear is just why there is an association between chilblains and COVID-19. There are physiological changes that occur to the microcirculation in those with COVID-19 that could easily explain why chilblains can occur with more frequency. Others have argued that the COVID Toes are not part of the physiological response to a COVID-19 infection, but are a result of lifestyle changes during lockdowns; for example, going barefoot more in centrally heated housing. More research is obviously needed to determine which of these two mechanisms is the reason for the mystery of COVID Toes.

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