What is 'chilblain'? Scientists discover the cause of the symptom in some affected by Covid
Scientists believe they may have found the reason why some people affected by Covid experience chilblain-like symptoms on their toes or hands. This symptom appears to be a side effect of the body switching to attack mode to attack the virus. The researchers say they have identified parts of the immune system that appear to be involved in the onset of the symptom. The findings, published in the British Journal of Dermatology, may help with treatments to relieve symptoms.
What exactly is this symptom?
It can occur at any age, but mostly affects children and adolescents. For some it is painless, but redness or irritation can be extremely painful and itchy, with blisters and swelling. Some affected people have shown that they have not been able to walk for a week in a row due to the pain they felt in their fingers. Some even experienced it for weeks. Often, they pass Covid without the classic symptoms, such as persistent cough, fever, and loss or change in aroma and taste.
Why does it happen?
Two parts of the immune system play a key role. Both involve mechanisms that the body uses to fight the coronavirus. One is an antiviral protein called interferon type 1, and the other is a type of antibody that mistakenly attacks a person's own cells and tissues, not just the invading virus. Cells lining the small blood vessels that supply the affected areas are also involved, say researchers from the University of Paris in France. They hope the findings will help patients and doctors better understand the condition and find effective ways to treat it. Covid-related skin problems may appear some time after acute infection.