Thursday, 4 Mar 2021

'Covid tongue' is symptom for one in four patients while 40% get burning feet

The onset of unusual symptoms in the mouth, hands or feet could be a sign of Covid-19, a new study has suggested.

More than 25% of coronavirus patients analysed displayed inflammation, bumps, coating and ulcers on the tongue – something which has been dubbed ‘Covid tongue’.

And about 40% suffered with burning, hives, skin peeling and redness on the palms of their hands and the soles of their feet, according to the findings published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Overall, 45.7% of patients analysed during the first peak of the virus in Spain last April, saw changes to their tongues, feet and hands.

Researchers at the Hospital Universitario La Paz, in Madrid, analysed 666 patients suffering with mild to moderate coronavirus who were treated between April 10 and 25.

The patients had been treated at the coronavirus field hospital set up at the IFEMA exhibition centre, which closed in early May. The average age of patients was 55, while 58% were women and 47% were from Latin America.

Following their findings, experts said medics should examine the oral cavities and hands and feet of suspected Covid-sufferers so they can be diagnosed faster.



The study comes after a King’s College epidemiologist said he was seeing ‘increasing’ numbers of people displaying ‘Covid tongue’.

Professor Tim Spector urged the public to look out for ‘strange symptoms’ such as unusual mouth ulcers and changes to the texture and coating on tongues, as they may be a sign that you need to self-isolate.

He said around one in five infected with the virus will show less common symptoms, as he urged people to stay at home even if they suffer with minor complaints that could be put down to another cause.

According to the NHS website, the three main symptoms of coronavirus are a high temperature, a continuous cough and loss or change to smell and taste – but emerging evidence shows many suffer with a variety of other symptoms.

The Madrid study found that the most common change to patients’ tongues was transient lingual papillitis – inflammation of the small bumps on the surface of the tongue.

More than 6% had glossitis which causes the tongue to swell and change colour, while another almost 7% had aphthous stomatitis, which is brought on by benign and non-contagious mouth ulcers. Another 4% had patchy white coating on the tongue.

Of those who reported changes to their hands and feet, the most common symptom seen was diffuse desquamation, when the top layer of skin is shed or peels off.

Around 15% had itchy red-brown flecks appear on the palms of their hands and soles of their feet, while another 7% reported feeling a burning sensation, called erythrodysesthesia, at the beginning of the disease. 

Almost 7% had hives, while only a small number had a rash – just under 3%.

The authors wrote: ‘The oral cavity was frequently involved and deserves specific examination under appropriate circumstances to avoid contagion risk. 

‘Redness and swelling of the hands and feet, fine palmoplantar desquamation and reddish‐to‐brown macules can help us to diagnose Covid‐19 infection and should be routinely checked.’

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