The so-called ‘COVID toe’ lesions that have been experienced by some Americans during the ongoing pandemic might not be caused by getting infected with the novel coronavirus, according to two new studies.

Despite intensive testing over a wide period of time, none of the study participants who had reddened, tender toes tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 that is responsible for COVID-19.

The experts at the University Hospital of la Fe Polytechnic in Valencia now theorize that the skin lesions that are characteristics of the so-called ‘COVID toe’ are not induced by the novel coronavirus, but by the quarantine state.

“Ruling out infection as a cause, the condition appeared mainly in children isolated in houses that were not well suited for individuals who spent long periods barefoot or only wearing socks and with very little physical activity," WebMD quoted Dr. Ignacio Torres-Navarro, a dermatologist with the University Hospital of la Fe Polytechnic in Valencia.

Another study conducted by researchers in Belgium which analyzed purplish-red chilblain-like lesions on the feet and hands of individuals revealed zero evidence of SARS-CoV-2 in any of the 29 patients.

The researchers agree that the quarantine lifestyle might be what is driving a surge in COVID toes and chilblains in the younger population.

“Both author groups propose that lifestyle changes imposed by the quarantine, such as walking barefoot in unheated homes, inactivity, and time spent in sedentary positions, could explain these findings,” said the researchers in their paper published in JAMA Dermatology.

Key Observations:

  • A vast majority of them had been working from home or were homeschooled
  • Most of them admitted to a largely ‘couch potato’ lifestyle during that time
  • And most of them also declared that they remained barefoot or in socks
  • None of them had COVID-19 symptoms or evidence of infection according to laboratory testing
  • A majority of them were relatively skinny. Thin people were at a higher risk of developing chilblains

It remains unclear as to whether a viral cytopathic (pertaining to cell diseases) process or a viral reaction pattern or any other mechanism is causing it.

The researchers highlighted that dermatologists should be aware of the exceedingly variable cutaneous findings that are possibly linked to COVID-19, even if there is no information yet pertaining to its origin.

COVID Toe isn't caused by COVID-19 cocoparisienne, Pixabay