26 Jun COVID-19 and Chilblains – What’s the Connection?
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Herman Anne MD
Service de Dermatologie
Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?Response: In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, several cases of acro-located lesions (on foot or hands) suggestive of chilblains have been reported and were possibly related to COVID-19. We wanted to determine if chilblains, observed in many patients recently referred to our department, are indicative of COVID-19.
MedicalResearch.com: Would you briefly explain what is meant by chilblains?
Response: Chilblains are frequent cold induced inflammatory lesions. Chilblains are typically seen in winter and occur after repeated exposure to cold temperatures. Clinical presentation includes erythema and swelling on toes and/or digits followed by red-purple macules or patches.
However, given the large number of patients affected, and the exceptionally high outdoor temperatures for the spring season over the past month and at the time of case-observation, cold-exposure seemed unlikely. These lesions were, therefore, suspected to be associated with COVID-19. However, to date, no study has proven a pathological link between these lesions and COVID-19.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: In our series of 31 patients who recently developed chilblains, negative nasopharyngeal swabs and the absence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 blood immunoglobulin (Ig)M and IgG antibodies in all patients included in your study suggested that these patients had not been infected with COVID-19. These lesions appeared not to be directly related to COVID-19.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: One hypothesis points to an indirect consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic due to imposed community containment and lockdown measures. Indeed, all patients in this study had either been working from home or were home-schooled since the beginning of containment measures in Belgium (March 11, 2020) or were temporarily unemployed. As a result of containment measures, the majority (64.5%) of patients reported a decrease in their physical activity and significantly more time spent in sedentary positions in front of screens. Most of the patients declared that they remained barefoot or in socks most of the day. All these lifestyle changes can be considered as risk factors for developing chilblains. Therefore, it seems plausible that containment, through its collateral effects, may induce chilblains. Interestingly also, the mean BMI of the patients included was relatively low, suggesting that thin people may be more at risk of developing chilblains.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: During the current pandemic, several reports have suggested a possible link between cutaneous manifestations including aural lesions such as chilblains, and COVID-19, however, only few patients were tested for SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR and no serologic tests were performed. Therefore, reliable testings (RT-PCR and serologic testing) are essential to confirm a potential association with COVID-19.
Herman A, Peeters C, Verroken A, et al. Evaluation of Chilblains as a Manifestation of the COVID-19 Pandemic. JAMA Dermatol. Published online June 25, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2020.2368
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