Sunday, 23 August 2020

Do you know about Covid Toe?

 A couple of weeks ago my mom read an article in the New York Times about COVID Toe, one of many other Covid-19 symptoms. She sent it to me because I had chilblains for the very first time ever in my life in June. A chilblain is a painful, red inflammation on one or more toes that is usually associated with exposure to cold.

I've always been one of those people that rarely gets cold feet and I'll happily walk around inside in winter in just a pair of socks or crocs.

At first, I thought the red irritation on the second toe of my left foot was due to one of those pricky grass seeds that can penetrate your skin. We get them out here, I'm always on trails and they do try to burrow in through the front of my running shoes. I've had this before but it goes away in a day or three. This time, the inflammation persisted and got worse and more red over the next few days. I checked for seeds and splinters but couldn't find a cause for the irritation. My toe was sore - not agony or even very painful - but kind of a pricky itch that I could feel all the time. What was weird too is that it 'progressed' to the side and underside of the next-door toe too.

My mom first mentioned the possibility of a chilblain - something completely outside my scope of reference. I looked it up, checked some pictures and sure enough, this looked like exactly what I had. 

I became more conscientious, wearing thicker socks - or even two layers of socks - while working at my desk as well as slippers and making sure that my feet didn't get cold. It took a few weeks to clear. The skin on the worse toe was discoloured for a while and it is still shows signs from the swelling but is totally healed otherwise.

And then she read the article by chance and sent it with a note saying, "Maybe this is what you had?".

The one dermatologist mentioned in the article used to see four or five cases a year. Now they're seeing dozens of cases of people, like me, who have never had chilblains before. And in summer too!

Apparently most cases have been in children, teens and young adults and it is thought that chilblains 'may reflect a healthy immune response to the virus'.

I searched for more articles on Covid toes and enjoyed this one, also in the New York Times, on 'The Many Symptoms of Covid-19'. 

Did I have chilblains caused by letting my feet get too cold in my very, very cold home office or did I have Covid Toes that developed as a result of a healthy immune response to the virus in the absence of any other symptoms?

In the second article, a whole bunch of seemingly random symptoms are mentioned - things that can be passed off as a bad day on a training run or tiredness for some unknown reason. 

These past months I've had the following at intervals: tight hip flexors while running - first time in my life (for a few days), slight rash (tiny bumps only, not itchy or red - went away in a day or two) above my knees, sore knee, a run of mild headaches, and slightly upset stomach. No fever, no coughing, no sore throat.

These can be easily explained (respectively) by: sitting too long and too cold at my deck, constant wearing of tights / pants in winter, as a result of some misstep on a run, spending too long on my computer, not drinking enough and stress, and something I ate / from the awful water in our town. These are all highly likely.

Rapid antibody tests are still to become readily available here and they are not necessarily conclusive but I'm keen to take one.

This is one test that I hope would be positive because it is more pleasant to pin these anomalies on Covid rather than stress, working too much and getting older.

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