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Covid in your skin?

A recent article in the Family Practice News dated June 2020, highlighted what can happen to your toes and fingers if you have Covid infection.

First of all, just because you have had a test, doesn’t mean that you do or don’t have the Covid infection, but for argument's sake, let’s presume that there is a diagnosis of Covid. By now everybody is aware of the impact it can have on the lungs, but did you know that it can also affect your skin?

Dermatologic manifestations of Covid can be devastating but are usually just bothersome. It is most common in the toes and it can be seen in the fingers as well. It looks like the toes or fingers have been in cold water and got over chilled. Not quite frostbite looking but it can be cold to the touch and it can be painful and blue. (Even though with time it gets better, I recommend a bath with Epsom salts and baking soda, about a pound of each in warm water, it seems to lessen the symptoms and perhaps speed up the healing process.)

So why would one’s toes turn blue and cold with Covid? It turns out that the virus results in inflammation around the small vessels or it can cause blood clots to form, cutting off circulation to the area. When circulation is cut off, the affected area will become cold to the touch and blue.

A surprising fact is that this usually occurs in children and young adults who are otherwise healthy. These young people usually recover within a few weeks and are fine. Occasionally it is associated with significant inflammation and may require medication, such as Nifedipine or Hydroxychloroquine. Overall it has an excellent prognosis and full recovery is the rule, not the exception.

In conclusion, we are seeing various manifestations of Covid that all seem to relate to impaired circulation and clotting and we are also seeing that the vast majority of people with Covid are recovering. The long-term sequelae, however, remain to be seen. In the meantime, keep moving, keep hydrated, avoid sugar as it negatively impacts the immune system, and take your vitamins (a good multivitamin, Vit D, zinc, Vit C).

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