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Frozen fingers, the strange symptom of coronavirus in young people

The list of symptoms of the coronavirus is quite numerous and it is getting wider. The most prominent or striking are the loss of taste and smell, but there are another that is especially striking for its rarity, frozen fingers. Specifically, as a swelling or burning in the fingers that goes away without treatment in two to three weeks.

It is a a rash known as chilblain or erythema pernio, which is more frequent in winter due to low temperatures. However, it began to develop in the middle of spring, and especially in young people.

Esther Freeman, a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, alarmed about it in The Washington Post in April, as a result of several similar emergency calls related to toe spots. And many of the patients he received ended up testing positive for coronavirus.

The characteristics of these eruptions

To get started, most patients with so-called “COVID fingers” were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms. On the other hand, almost all were children or young adults between the ages of 20 and 40, a group that is not at risk and who have a better response to the coronavirus.

“Most of the patients were young, healthy and had a benign clinical course”noted Freeman, who is also a researcher at Harvard Medical School. In addition, he sent a reassuring message: “I don’t want people to think that if they have purple spots on their toes, they will end up on a respirator in an intensive care unit. That is not what we are seeing in the data. “

As usual, viral rashes are not normal, and changes in the skin are usually indicators of something negative. But nevertheless, these toe rashes have surprised researchers.

Chronology and possible explanation

According to reports and investigations, around April the first cases appeared. One of these first reports came at the beginning of the mentioned month when a French dermatology group warned of “pseudo-frostbites” in the extremities and temporary urticarias. Likewise, on the same dates, the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology reported on the presence of purple lesions on the foot of a young Belgian who had tested positive and had also presented symptoms such as a dry cough and mild fever.

“The truth is that no one knows why this is happening and why it is manifesting in the fingers and toes“Said Ebbing Lautenbach, chief of the infectious diseases division at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

The theory that has been given is that some deaths from COVID-19 are due to inflammation and clotting problems. In fact, the medical journal The Lancet published in an article that the virus can attack a thin layer of cells that covers the walls of the vessels, and that could lead to rashes and clotting problems.