COVID-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus, has been all you see in the news these days. What you don’t see much about is the fact that many people infected with the Coronavirus have also experienced rashes on their bodies. Since people infected with the virus typically don’t exhibit symptoms for up to 14 days, this warning may help identify those with the Coronavirus early on.
COVID-19 is an infectious respiratory disease that is spread from person to person. The most common symptoms that occur in COVID-19 patients include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue. However, just as a skin rash may be a sign of other serious underlying health problems, it may also suggest that you have COVID-19. Rashes typically occur as the immune system’s response to a bacterial infection, an allergy, or can often be a sign of a viral infection.
Although rashes are not included in the typical list of the symptoms for the Coronavirus, there have been numerous reports of individuals who experienced different types of skin rashes while infected with COVID-19. As a result, it is now believed that there are a variety of rashes that may be associated with this virus. The rashes range in size, location, and form. There have been reports of larger lesions, both flat and raised, as well as small red dots.
Is “COVID Toes” a real thing?
One of the more bizarre locations for these rashes has resulted in the name, “COVID Toes.” It involves purple, red or pink discoloration on the tips of the patient’s toes, which may be attributed to lack of blood flow to that area of the body. The appearance of this toe rash can appear different depending on the cause and is very similar in patients with Chilblains (Pernio). Many times, these patients report mild to no other symptoms. See also Chilblain-Like Lesions below.
Types of Rashes
Below we detail the various types of rashes that have been associated with the Coronavirus, how they appear, and what to look for. If you have a rash that resembles these descriptions, you should schedule an appointment with your dermatologist and/or get a COVID-19 test.
- Chilblain-Like Lesions: This type of rash is abnormal or asymmetrical in shape, and red or purplish in color. Occasionally, the rash also has small nodules. Someone experiencing chilblain lesions, may report itchiness and pain. These lesions are found on the hands and feet, and may cause toes to swell making it too painful to wear shoes. It is said to be associated with mild infections, with the majority of cases involving children and young adults. Unfortunately, this symptom of the COVID-19 virus isn’t often used as an indicator for diagnosis because it appears later in the course of the infection. However, several people with this rash who have tested positive for COVID-19, have otherwise been without symptoms. The rash is said to last around 12 days, with some cases clearing up sooner. This type of lesion accounts for 19 percent of rash cases associated with the Coronavirus.
- Small Blisters: This type of rash when associated with COVID-19 has often presented itself in middle-aged patients, and accounts for 9 percent of all cases involving a rash. These small blisters usually appear on the trunk and the limbs of the body and are often itchy and uncomfortable. Also, small blister types of rash can be used as an indicator to suggest that an individual has COVID-19 because it typically appears early on in the course of the infection. Early diagnosis can help individuals from unknowingly passing the virus to others.
- Maculopapular Rash: At up to 47%, this particular type of rash accounts for the majority of coronavirus cases involving a rash. Maculopapules appear as red bumps that can be flat or raised and are often itchy and uncomfortable. This rash has been found to develop at the same time as the typical Coronavirus symptoms. This form of rash is often seen in patients with more severe cases of COVID-19, and has been said to last around 7 to 9 days. Although discovery of this rash may not help identify the virus any sooner, history has shown that it can be an indicator for more severe cases and may warrant closer attention.
- Livedo (also known as Necrosis): Due to the lack of circulation, this rash appears as red or blue blotches in a lace-like pattern on the skin. It has frequently surfaced in older patients with severe infections or other illnesses. This type of rash only accounts for around 6% of cases.
- Nettle-Like Rash: Appearing as either pink or white in color, this rash has reports of being quite itchy, and can resemble hives. The majority of these cases were located on the trunk of the body. However, in some situations, it has also appeared on the palms of the hands. The rash lasted for an average of about 7 days and was associated with more severe cases of Coronavirus. Again, detection of this type of rash may indicate a patient be observed more closely.
Doctors and researchers are continuing to study the occurrence of these rashes, and to search for answers as to why these skin rashes are appearing in some COVID patients. Health care professionals are particularity interested in the varying forms of rashes and how they can be tied to better or worse outcomes for their patients. In addition, rashes may also give us clues as to the potential severity of the viral infection.
A lot is still unknown regarding to what extent a person with a COVID-19 rash with no other apparent symptoms, may be contagious to those around them. To protect those around you it is important to get any rash resembling the descriptions above reviewed by a licensed dermatologist.
Dr. Gurgen and his office of dermatology specialists are available for carefully administered office visits during this COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. We are practicing all of the social distancing policies recommended by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) to avoid any possible exposure or spread of the COVID-19 virus. Currently, all of our patients wait in their cars for their scheduled appointments. They are required to complete an infectious disease screening form prior to admission to office and once admitted are escorted directly to their sanitized exam room. All healthcare providers and employees will be wearing N95 masks.
Because of this Coronavirus screening and for the protection of our patients, we will not be able to admit anyone exhibiting other symptoms of COVID-19 like fever or cough. If you have additional symptoms, you should get tested as soon as possible by a COVID-19 Testing Center. Click Here to find a testing center near you.