PEOPLE suffering with long Covid are battling with agonising skin lesions months after first catching the virus, experts have found.
Many people who have overcome the disease have developed chilblain-like inflammation on their feet – also known as Covid toes.
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Covid toes is mainly seen in kids, doctors say.
Medics treating Covid-19 patients have continuously reported seeing unusual cases where people have developed blisters and purple lesions on their feet.
The condition appears on the feet of patients, even when no other symptoms are apparent.
Experts at the International League of Dermatological Societies and the American Academy of Dermatology found that the condition usually develops within a week to four weeks of being infected.
Those with the condition can experience their toes changing colour or them becoming swollen.
The experts said that most symptoms are mild in the majority of patients and that in most cases the feet return to normal within a few weeks.
But scientists said that one in six people with the condition have required hospital treatment, while some people reported cases lasting for several months.
Dr Esther Freeman, principal investigator of the International Covid-19 Dermatology Registry, said that there seems to be a certain sub-group of coronavirus patients who develop inflammation of the toes.
She said that this often turns them red and swollen and in some cases they even turn purple.
Dr Freeman added: “In most cases, it is self-resolved and it goes away. It is relatively mild.
“It lasts on average about 15 days. But we have seen patients lasting a month or two months.”
She added: “What is very surprising is when you get beyond that 60-day mark – because it’s not like patients are resolving at day 70.
“It’s the fact that some of our patients are at over 150 days now – these are patients with red or purple or swollen toes for many months.”
What is long Covid?
At the start of 2020 Covid-19 was new and unknown to most of the world and experts say there is still much that needs to be understood about the virus, including its side effects.
“Firstly, it’s important to know that ‘long-Covid’ is not an official medical term, but a colloquial term being used to describe people whose symptoms go on for longer than the two-week symptom period officially recognised by WHO.
“As with the acute stage of the disease, the long-term symptoms are still far from being fully understood.”
He added that it’s important to understand that “long-Covid is yet to be officially recognised medically”.
What are the symptoms?
The all-party parliamentary group (APPG) of MPs on the coronavirus have listed 16 symptoms.
- Hair loss
- High temperature
- Chest pain
- Covid toes
- Cognitive problems
- Breathing issues
- Muscle or body aches
- A heart rate of more than 100 beats a minute (Tachycardia)
- Issues with your heart rate or its rhythm (Arrhythmia)
The research found that around half of the patients in the registry have Covid toes – with 16 per cent having been hospitalised as a result.
Dr Freeman said identifying people with Covid toes can help scientists understand more about other Covid symptoms that present in other parts of the body.
She added that experts have started to see long-Covid in other organ systems.
“This is the first time we are recognising this can happen in the skin as well”, she said.
Dr Freeman said this raises questions as to the type of inflammation that occurs when someone is infected with the virus.
She said: “The skin can be viewed as a window into the rest of the body because it is inflammation which you can see – and can be indicative of inflammation elsewhere.”
Dr Freeman said the report was “just the tip of the iceberg” and said there could be patients all around the world experiencing Covid-toes who have not sought help.
She added: “I think what we’re reporting is probably just the tip of the iceberg – it’s probably happening a lot more than we’re reporting but I think by reporting it more people will recognise it.”
The figures are submitted by doctors treating patients with skin issues in dozens of countries around the world and are being presented at the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV) Congress in Switzerland this week.