It seems there isn’t a part of your body the novel coronavirus can’t affect, with symptoms ranging from hair loss to COVID toes and rashes to brain fog. The virus can also continue to linger even months after you’ve seemingly recovered. One of the strangest lasting symptoms to emerge lately has been cropping up on COVID survivors’ nails.
While people have been posting on social media about this long-term side effect for some time, it gained steam when a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, who runs the world’s largest COVID symptom study, Tim Spector, MB, tweeted about it. “COVID nails are increasingly being recognized as the nails recover after infection and the growth recovers leaving a clear line,” Spector tweeted on May 3, noting the symptom “appears harmless.”
Eileen Deignan, MD, chief of the Dermatology Department at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Massachusetts, told Best Life that these clear lines, clinically referred to as Beau’s lines, can appear on the fingernails or toenails.
“If something stressed the body such as COVID, the nail matrix cells stop growing temporarily,” says Deignan. The lines are a consequence of this pause. “The whole nail matrix is affected as a result of a system-wide illness such as COVID,” she says. “[Beau’s lines] occur as a result of the abrupt stop and then the resumption of nail plate growth. … The depression in the nail is across the whole nail.”