Why does King Charles have puffy fingers?

Then-Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth II during the queen's Platinum Jubilee Celebrations this year.
Then-Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth II during the queen's Platinum Jubilee Celebrations this year.
Getty Images/Mark Cuthbert
  • King Charles' puffy fingers have become a talking point among thousands of people online.
  • The new monarch has struggled with swollen fingers for many years, as is seen in photos from past royal engagements.
  • One UK-based doctor explains the possible health conditions the king may be suffering from but adds there is nothing to be alarmed about.

King Charles III automatically ascended the throne upon Queen Elizabeth's death in Balmoral last week. That means he is in the spotlight now more than ever before - and his swollen fingers have caught the attention of thousands of royal fans.

Photographs of the new monarch, who, at 73, is the oldest person to assume the British throne, show his evidently swollen-looking fingers and have prompted many to wonder whether he is in good health.

READ MORE | Royal longevity: Why Queen Elizabeth - and other British royals - live longer than the rest of us

But swollen fingers are something the king has had for years, and even jokingly referred to them as 'sausage fingers' back in 2012 while on tour in Australia, as per The Telegraph.

As for the bloated fingers, one British doctor has since explained that there are many health conditions that could be responsible for them, but that in the monarch’s case, oedema or water retention is most likely.

“Oedema is a condition where the body starts to retain fluids in the limbs, normally the legs and ankles but also in the fingers, which causes them to swell,” Dr Gareth Nye, senior lecturer at the University of Chester, told the Daily Star.

READ MORE | What did the Queen eat? Her Majesty's all-time favourite foods and what she wanted off the menu

The common condition mostly affects people over the age of 65, he added, “[as] the ability for fluid control is restricted". The condition can be temporary or permanent, and it can come and go depending on the cause, notes Harvard Health.

Other potential conditions

Apart from oedema, Nye says that arthritis could potentially be behind the monarch’s swollen fingers. Arthritis, he says, "often affects three main areas in the hand - the thumb joint or either joints in the fingers."

Dactylitis, informally known as ‘sausage fingers’,  a condition that causes severe inflammation of the finger or toe tendons and joints, can also make fingers look like sausages, Healthline explains. There are multiple conditions that can cause a person to develop dactylitis, including various types of arthritis, sickle cell disease, gout or Lyme disease.

READ MORE | How South Africa helped bring together Queen Elizabeth's 2.7 metre tall wedding cake

Other conditions that give rise to fingers that puff up like sausages include scleroderma, an immune system disease that tricks your body into over-producing a protein called collagen, explains WebMD

Whatever the cause of the monarch’s swollen fingers, Nye on Twitter said there's nothing to be alarmed about.

"There aren’t any immediate health concerns to be concluded from swollen fingers and is most likely a sign of his age," he also told the Daily Star.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.