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media caption'My life living with Covid toes'

Teenager Sofia has never tested positive for coronavirus but since October she has suffered from what experts describe as "Covid Toes".

The 13-year-old is barely able to walk or wear shoes due to the painful condition.

"My feet swell up, I get blisters all over them and they go from pink to purple really quickly," she told BBC Scotland's The Nine.

"I get lumps on the bottom of them which makes it really hard to stand up for long. I can only wear flip-flops. "

Sofia, who lives in Clackmannanshire, has been too unwell to go to school and is now relying on a wheelchair for longer walks.

"Before this, I was singing, dancing and just running around the place. Now I can't really do that so it's very different," she said.

image copyrightFamily handout

According to the College of Podiatry, Covid Toes is the name given to chilblain-like lesions which appear on the toes of some individuals in the days after a Covid-19 infection.

It is suspected that many cases go unreported, making it harder to track but research is ongoing across the world.

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Podiatrist Martin McCafferty has seen a handful of examples in his clinic in East Dunbartonshire.

He said it was a "challenge" for healthcare professionals to find relevant information and that more research needs to be done.

"We're most commonly seeing this in younger patients who don't tend to show any other signs of the virus – people who would test negative for Covid-19," he said.

"There are a few theories around why that might happen – one being that 'Covid Toes' shows up towards the tail end of the virus, so by that point if you go for a PCR test, it might come back negative anyway.

"Another is that these patients release interferon which means they will rapidly clear the virus before any real immunity is built up – leaving these chilblain type legions."

image captionSofia's parents, Davie and Gaby, want to do all they can for their daughter

Sofia's case is a severe one, with symptoms clearing up for most people within a couple of days or weeks. Nine months on, her family don't feel any further forward.

"She's been to dermatologists and been on steroids," says mum Gaby. "They've done all the tests, medications, creams and everything on her feet but they've kind of run out of ideas."

The mother of three and father Davie are determined to do all they can for their daughter.

"I don't want to see any other children going through what Sofia has. At the start, I don't think she was believed. You know your children better than anyone else and you've got to fight their corner", said Gaby.

Keeping up with the latest literature is Debbie Wilson, a podiatry lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University and a member of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

"After summer, I'll be including "Covid Toes' in my student classes," she said. "I've already spoken about it at a couple of presentations with other colleagues in the field.

She believes more work needs to be done.

"As numbers are rising once again, we may see more children presenting themselves with this."

'Kind of scary'

In the meantime, Sofia is learning to cope with her condition.

"I put my feet in a foot spa thing with warm water and bath salts and that sometimes helps them calm down a bit," she says.

"It's kind of scary because I don't really know what's happening." she says. "I don't know if I'll be able to do the things that I like to do in the future."

Public Health Scotland say that no cases have been reported to them.

A Scottish government spokesperson said: "Covid-19 is still a relatively new illness and it is important that we continue to improve our understanding of its effects on people.

"Although we do not hold any data on this particular symptom, we are keeping all aspects under review as international understanding of this virus develops."

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