Pseudo-Chilblains in Adult Patients with Confirmed COVID-19: A Systematic Review




COVID-19, SARS CoV-2, Pernio, Perniosis, Chilblain, Exanthem, Viral, Toes, Pseudo-Chilblains, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, equelae, Post-acute sequelae SARS-CoV-2, Sequelae, Complications, Viral pneumonia, 2019-nCoV Infection, SARS-CoV-2 Infection, Coronavirus Disease 2019


Background: Pseudo-chilblains have been associated with COVID-19. Many reports, however, lack confirmation of COVID-19 infection. While likely associated, all chilblains/chilblain-like lesions during this time should not be assumed to be COVID-19 related. This study examines the characteristics of adults with pseudo-chilblains and confirmed COVID-19.

Methods: A systematic review of PubMed/MEDLINE database was performed using the PRISMA guidelines. Adults (>18 years) with confirmed COVID-19 were included. De-identified registries were excluded to avoid duplication. We extracted study design, age, sex, race, geographic location, relationship of COVID-19 diagnosis to chilblains onset, confirmatory testing, hospitalization status, anatomical location, cold/damp exposure, presence/absence/description of pseudo-chilblains symptoms, presence/absence of biopsies/histopathologic findings, tissue IHC/PCR, presence/absence/details of extracutaneous COVID-19 disease, pre-existing chilblains, treatment and resolution timeline. The search was completed in July 2022.

Results: We identified 13 studies (29 patients). In COVID-19-infected adults, pseudo-chilblains were reported primarily from North America and Europe, occurring in both sexes over a wide age-range, affected well and ill patients, favored the hands and feet and could be symptomatic or asymptomatic. Most patients had extracutaneous symptoms. Resolution time ranged from <1 week to >50 days. There was marked variation in treatment strategies and appearance of pseudo-chilblains relative to entire disease course. Biopsies were infrequently performed but findings similar to classical chilblains were described.

Conclusions: Many patients reported as pseudo-chilblains of COVID-19 lack confirmed infection. Infection confirmation, photographic documentation and histopathology are critical to establish homogeneity in reported pseudo-chilblains during this global pandemic. Further work clarifying the relationship of acral eruptions and COVID-19 is necessary.


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Studies Identification for a Systematic Review of Pseudo-Chilblains in Adult Patients with Confirmed COVID-19. PRISMA Flow Chart



How to Cite

Hayles, S., Williams, K., Thomas, N., Morgan, J., Braham, D., Gossell Williams, M., & Ho, J. D. (2023). Pseudo-Chilblains in Adult Patients with Confirmed COVID-19: A Systematic Review. International Journal of Medical Students, 11(3), 220–228.