By E.J. Mundell
THURSDAY, June 25, 2020 (HealthDay News) – Two new studies strongly suggest that the so-called “COVID toe” lesions that occurred in some Americans during the pandemic may not be due to infection with the new coronavirus caused.
Despite intensive testing over a long period, none of the 51 study patients who suffered from the reddened, tender toes were positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Instead, the simple fact that many people spend weeks walking barefoot at home could be the cause, the researchers suggested.
The Spanish researchers behind one of the studies are now theorizing that “these skin lesions are not induced by the virus but by the quarantine state itself”.
The team headed by Dr. Ignacio Torres-Navarro, dermatologist at La Fe Polytechnic University Hospital in Valencia, carried out an in-depth analysis of the COVID toes in 20 children. They ruled out infection as the cause, saying that the disease “mainly occurred in children who were isolated in homes that were not well suited for people who had spent long periods barefoot or with socks and with very little physical activity. “
Another study, this time led by Belgian researchers, conducted a similar study on purple chilblain-like lesions on the feet (29 patients) and hands (three patients) of people seen in a dermatology clinic in Brussels in April. Most were teenagers or young adults.
Again, COVID-19 was suspected to be the cause, but high-precision tests performed over a long period of time with blood or nasal swabs showed no evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in any of the patients.
The Belgian team agreed with the Spanish researchers that the quarantine lifestyle may lead to an increase in COVID toes and frostbite in young people.
“All patients said they either worked from home or were taught at home,” said a team led by dermatologist Dr. Anne Herman of the Catholic University of Louvain since a ban was introduced in Belgium in early March. Most admitted a largely “couch potato” lifestyle during this period, and “most patients reported staying barefoot or in socks during this period”.
There was another risk factor: Most were relatively thin, “indicating that thin people are at higher risk of developing frostbite,” said Herman’s group.
Dr. Michele Green is a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. As she read the studies, she agreed that “with so many of these patients who present with COVID toes and test negative for the virus, this may not be directly related to the virus.” But she added that “further studies are needed to understand the cause and the relationship.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, risk factors for foot lesions such as frostbite are underweight, expose the skin to cold or damp conditions, and the weather is both cool and damp. Women are more susceptible to frostbite than men. Covering exposed skin and keeping your house warm can reduce the risk, Mayo experts said.
The two new studies were published online on June 25th in JAMA Dermatology.
Visit the UK National Health Service to learn more Frostbite.
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