Around April 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak in Europe there were increasing reports of what appeared to be chilblains on the feet appearing with a very high frequency in those infected with the novel coronavirus. The mass media caught on to these reports and a lot of attention has been paid to these so-called COVID toes.

Chilblains are reasonably common in the colder climates anyway, and it was not clear what the significance of them appearing so often in those with COVID-19 was as it was winter in the northern hemisphere when these media reports started to appear. Since those initial reports, there have now been a number of published studies on COVID toes and chilblains. That has not necessarily led to an increased understanding of the problem with mixed results and commentary in the medical literature. The reason for this is that it could be due to one (or both) of two possible explanations:

  • the chilblains could be part of the pathophysiology of the coronavirus infection. Chilblains are well known as a problem with the small blood vessels and how they react to the cold, so the inflammatory process of the infection could affect the way the blood vessels react, causing the chilblain. COVID-19 has been well documented as affecting the vascular system, so the chilblains could be due to this mechanism
  • the higher incidence of the chilblains may actually not be directly related to the COVID-19, but may be due to lifestyle changes that happened during the lockdown associated with the pandemic and it was those lifestyle changes that predisposed to the chilblains. Spending more time in centrally heated houses rather than outdoors in the colder climates could be a factor in the increased prevalence of chilblains.

While it’s not clear if its both or either of the above, COVID toes are definitely a thing. If you have chilblains and you do not normally get them or if you have them and there is something out of the ordinary with them, then it might pay to get that investigated further. Regardless of the cause of the chilblains, the management is the same and the feet need to be protected from the cold and the application of creams to stimulate the circulation in the small blood vessels is important.

COVID-19 has certainly been a major upheaval in everyone’s lives and in too many cases having tragic consequences. We have all had to adapt to the short term impacts of this on our lives and there will be long term changes in our lives as a result of this.

We have had a number of calls if we are still open (we are) and we certainly understand people’s reluctance to go anywhere unless they really have to. Our priority is your and our health and safety. We know that people with foot pain need to be treated. At Croydon Total Footcare we have always had a high standard of infection control to protect our patients and us. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, we have implemented new safeguards such as protective screens, adjusted appointment book scheduling to ensure there is no patient to patient contact and the increased use of personal protective equipment. We are also asking people to remain in their cars in the parking area if we already have someone in the clinic.  Our stringent sanitisation of all shared surfaces has also been increased.

For those who just need advice, a second opinion or simple follow-up we now offer a telehealth service, so this can be done over a video call. Most health funds are paying for this, at least in the short term. Please contact us for more on this.

At Croydon Total Footcare we are following all the guidance given by the Victorian Government and the Australian Health Profession Regulatory Authority as well as advice from the Australian Podiatry Association. You can rest assured that we are giving your (and our) safety the highest priority so we can better manage your foot problems. Please give the clinic a ring if you have any questions.

Stay safe.