Close-up of a thumb nail with longitudinal ridging.
(NAOWARAT/Shutterstock.com)

Over the past year-and-a-half, people with Coronavirus (COVID-19) have reported a wide range of symptoms, from mild to severe. According to the CDC, those symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, and fatigue, among others.

But what about the lasting effects of the virus after you recover? Are there lingering, tell-tale signs that you’ve had COVID-19?

What Are COVID Nails?

We will be learning about the effects of COVID-19 for years to come. But we already know that weird things can happen after you’ve recovered from the virus. The most notable so far are persistent cough and fatigue. But a new side effect has emerged called COVID Nails, or Beau’s lines.

Recently, British epidemiologist and principal investigator of the Zoe COVID Symptom Study app, Tim Spector, tweeted an interesting question to his followers about the new phenomenon, along with a photo.

“Do your nails look odd?” Spector tweeted. “COVID nails are increasingly being recognized as the nails recover after infection and the growth recovers leaving a clear line.”

Basically, COVID Nails are the result of a “shifting in the nail cycle,” says New York City dermatologist Doris Day, MD. She says that you’ll usually see this happen in all of your nails, instead of just one. And, you might even see it happen in your toenails.

What Do COVID Nails Look Like?

Beau’s lines, which are recently being referred to as COVID Nails, can look like ridges, grooves, or indentations that run horizontally across your nail plate. According to Health.com, people with COVID won’t see this happen right away. Instead, it shows up about two to three months after you’ve had the virus.

It won’t happen to everyone who’s had COVID, either, says Dr. Day. She explains that it’s more apparent in some than others. Some people won’t see it all because it’s “not so obvious.”

If You Have COVID Nails, Does It Mean You’ve Had COVID-19?

Just because you have Beau’s Lines, it doesn’t mean you’ve definitely had COVID-19. Many illnesses can cause this to happen, says infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja MD, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

“It has been well known that any kind of systemic disease can disrupt nail growth which can be reflected in abnormalities in the appearance of nails,” he says. “This can be seen with any critical illness. Having it after chemotherapy is a classic case.”

Should You Be Worried About COVID Nails?

According to the experts, COVID Nails are usually “nothing to worry about.” Spector says that Beau’s Lines can “occur without skin rashes” and they appear to be “harmless.” Dr. Day notes that “it just shows that your body went through something and you’re done with it.”

The good news is that you don’t need treatment to get rid of Beau’s Lines, as it should correct itself on its own. The nail change isn’t permanent. So, it’s just “a waiting game for the nail to grow out.”

The COVID-19 information in this story is accurate as of press time.

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