We’ve heard about the COVID tongue, rashes and even fingers and toes – and now there’s another possible sign of your virus infection: COVID nails.
Professor Tim Spector, lead investigator for the Zoe COVID Symptom Study app, shared a photo of the phenomenon on Twitter, indicating that COVID nails are “increasingly being recognized as nails recover after injury and growth recovers, leaving a clear line.”
Also known as Beau’s lines, horizontal grooves or indentations appear in the nail plate and can be caused by stunted nail growth due to injury or disease. Spector noted that in Covid patients, these symptoms can occur without the presence of a rash and appear to be harmless.
Case reports published in health journals indicated that this phenomenon has been recorded in COVID patients elsewhere. A 45-year-old man presented horizontal grooves on his toenails and toenails – three and a half months ago, he was diagnosed with COVID-19 after a positive PCR swab test. His symptoms lasted for 10 days and he did not need to be hospitalized.
Dr Tania Bleeker, Chair of the British Association of Dermatologists, told HuffPost UK that it’s something that dermatologists are seeing in COVID patients as well.
“These changes have always been recognized as” Beau’s lines, “which are transverse spaces in the nails of many or all of the toenails, and sometimes the toenails, she says.
Indentations tend to appear on the toenails between two and three weeks after the illness – and a little later in the toenails. “They are harmless and grow over time,” says Bleeker.
It’s important to note that Beau’s lines are not exclusive to COVID – so they are not a sure sign that you have the virus. Other causes include nail injury, eczema, severe malnutrition, Raynaud’s disease, high blood pressure, epilepsy, kidney failure, Kawasaki disease, and chemotherapy.
They’ve also been linked to having a high fever, according to a dermatologist, which is one of the main symptoms of coronavirus, as well as several other illnesses including scarlet fever, pneumonia and malaria.
There is no specific treatment for such lines and researchers note that they tend to return to normal if the underlying condition resolves. Once this happens, it will probably take about six months for the nails – and streaks – to grow back and completely disappear.
If they do not get older or appear more often, it may be helpful to speak to a dermatologist or general practitioner about whether another underlying condition could be causing this.
Another nail change that appears to be related to the Coronavirus is the presence of red half-moon marks on the nails near the skin. Researchers are not sure why this happens, but they think it may have something to do with vasculitis caused by the virus.