Both adults and children have been warned about a skin ailment which can sometimes be painful and itchy. Leading health experts warn of this common symptom caused by COVID-19 which should be classed as the fourth key warning sign of the novel coronavirus. Has your skin looked and felt this way?
Researchers from Kings College London discovered that 8.8 percent of people reporting a positive COVID-19 swab had experienced a skin rash as part of their symptoms, compared with 5.4 percent of people with a negative test result.
To investigate further, the team set up a separate online survey, gathering images and information from nearly 12,000 people with skin rashes and suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
The COVID symptom study also found these skin rashes can be subdivided into three categories including:
Hive-type rash (urticaria) which is a sudden appearance of raised bumps on the skin which come and go quite quickly over hours and are usually very itchy.
It can involve any part of the body, and often starts with intense itching of the palms or soles and can cause swelling of the lips and eyelids.
Prickly heat or chickenpox-type rash which becomes areas of small, itchy red bumps that can occur anywhere on the body, but particularly the elbows and knees as well as the back of the hands and feet.
The rash can persist for days or weeks.
COVID fingers and toes (chilblains) which are reddish and purplish bumps on the fingers or toes, which may be sore but not usually itchy.
This type of rash is most specific to COVID-19, is more common in younger people with the disease, and tends to present later on.
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“This is a common pattern seen in viral infections with a symmetrical rash comprising numerous reddish blotches or bumps over the body,” said the British Association of Dermatologists
“It is usually accompanied by symptoms of a viral illness, such as fever, cough and malaise.
“Patients with suspected COVID could present with this pattern but may have no other symptoms.
“If you suspect that you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 you can contact NHS 111 for advice.”
Dr Mario Falchi, senior lecturer at King’s College London, and who led the research, said COVID-19 patients reported suffering from the rashes for weeks — much longer than the more common symptoms.
Writing in the study, which has not yet been published in a journal or peer-reviewed by other scientists, Dr Falchi said: “COVID-19 rashes may present in many forms and at different stages of the disease.
“The heterogeneous presentations, the time delay, as well as the focus on severely ill patients during the early phases of the pandemic, led to the skin being overlooked as an important target organ for COVID-19.
“Although it is less prevalent than fever, it is more specific of COVID-19 and lasts longer.”
A high fever, a new cough, and a change to your sense of smell or taste are the most common early coronavirus symptoms, according to the NHS.
In the UK, you should only get tested for the infection if you develop any of these symptoms.
Some patients have also reported a sore throat, headaches, and even hiccups, on top of the more common signs.
More than 44,500 people have died from coronavirus in the UK.