KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Doctors and researchers learn more about the lingering side effects of the coronaviruses every day.
So do the thousands of people experiencing them.
The most common side effect patients report are “COVID toes,” according to the long-haulers clinic at the University of Kansas Health System.
COVID toes, or pernio, is when tiny blood clots form in the toes, or fingers. People who’ve been diagnosed with coronaviruses will notice painful bright red or purple spots on their hands and feet.
“Five to 10% of patients with COVID toes will actually have symptoms that persist longer than two months. And another unique COVID rash. It’s a psoriasis like rash has also been known to persist longer,” Dr. Anand Rajpara, director of dermatology at KC CARE said.
The good news is that COVID toes do not need to be treated to go away, but it’s also not known exactly how long they last following the illness, according to the discussion on a Facebook live with the University of Kansas Health System.
Dr. Rajpara said while Pernio is not new, it’s normally only seen in patients with underlying conditions like autoimmune diseases.
“We never before saw this large amount of cases in the spring because typically it only occurred in the winter, when blood flow to the fingers and toes was reduced,” Rajpara said. “When we started seeing it in the spring, we were questioning what’s going on? What’s causing this? And now it’s known that it’s definitely COVID is one of the factors.”
Doctors say some patients diagnosed with COVID toe are in so much pain they can’t walk. Other patients report itching or a burning sensation.
There are also five different types of rashes connected to COVID that dermatologists say they are treating. Some patients have a history of psoriasis, but others don’t.
“It’s kind of scaly bumps all over the body. The most severe one we usually see in hospitalized patients that you know, you would see in the ICU is a livedo reticularis type rash. It’s kind of a lazy rash on the body, where the blood vessels are actually getting clogged, clotted, or clogged, is related to the virus’s
ability to call it a hypercoagulable state,” Rajpara said.
Other side effects, including hair loss, aren’t as painful, but they’re still annoying.
“We are seeing a large rise in hair loss right now. It can actually be both due to COVID illness itself, and issues such as loss of a loved one,” Rajpara said. “When we have severe emotional stress or physical illness, our system is shocked. So the body actually goes into conservation mode to save energy and stops non essential functions. And one of those is hair growth.”
Some of these patients are as young as 25 years old.
Dr. Rajpara said patients suffering hair loss from COVID or stress won’t go completely bald. The condition is temporary and it takes as long as a year for hair to fully regrow.
Fingernails and toenails can also stop growing during a time of extreme illness.
Read more of our COVID-19 coverage under the news and then tracking coronavirus options at the top of the page.