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This strange coronavirus symptom can last for 5 months

Published Dec 23rd, 2020 6:49PM EST
Coronavirus symptoms
Image: Syda Productions/Adobe

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  • There has been a long list of coronavirus symptoms to be aware of since the start of the pandemic, everything from fever and coughing to headaches, trouble breathing, and loss of taste or smell.
  • A new study has found that at least one strange symptom can last for months after a person has supposedly beaten the coronavirus.
  • It’s informally called “COVID toes,” and it can include toe pain, toe discoloration, and toe swelling.

We talked in a post yesterday

about the strange and mysterious phenomenon associated with the COVID-19 pandemic that people have started to refer to as “Long COVID.” It’s the condition faced by many, but not all, people who’ve been infected by the virus whereby some coronavirus symptoms — and other symptoms that can be just downright bizarre and seemingly unexplainable — end up lasting for months after a person has supposedly become virus-free.

Now, a new study of people suffering from “Long COVID” has found that one particularly strange symptom can linger post-COVID for months. Call it, “COVID toes.”

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

Dr. Freeman is also the principal investigator for the International COVID-19 Dermatology Registry, the world’s largest registry of COVID patients with dermatological symptoms. The phenomenon she referred to as “COVID toes” has included coronavirus-sufferers being afflicted with things like toe swelling, toe pain, and toe discoloration for “many months.” One man this analysis looked at had COVID toes for almost six months.

Overall, the analysis encompassed almost 1,000 coronavirus patients from 39 countries, with many of the patients suffering from myriad dermatological problems. For some, the problems lasted for a couple of weeks, while for others the timeframe was much longer.

The thinking among health experts is that because COVID-19 has been linked to general inflammation throughout the body, including of key organs like the heart, the strange problems post-COVID related to toes may be linked to that inflammation. “This data adds to our knowledge about how COVID-19 can affect multiple different organ systems, even after patients have recovered from their acute infection,” Dr. Freeman said in a press release about the study results. “The skin can provide a visual window into inflammation that may be going on elsewhere in the body.”

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.