Researchers say skin rashes should be considered 4th symptom of COVID-19

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A group of researchers from the United Kingdom said skin rashes should be considered a fourth key symptom of COVID-19. Other key symptoms include cough, fever, or anosmia (loss of smell).

A study led by King's College London used data from a COVID-19 Symptoms Study app with 336,000 users. Nearly nine percent of people who reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 had a skin rash.

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In a separate survey, 12,000 people with skin rashes were either confirmed to have COVID-19 or suspected they had the virus. Another 21% said the rash was their only symptom.

If you think you may have COVID-19, doctors said it's best to self-isolate and get tested. They recommend you only go to the emergency room if you're having difficulty breathing, experiencing chest pains, or other severe symptoms.

"Unless you have symptoms that you feel are life-threatening, rashes that come along with a fever or if you're feeling unwell, those are things or types of rashes that I would expect somebody to come to the emergency department for," said Dr. Theresa Tran, the assistant professor of emergency management at Baylor College of Medicine.

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The study highlights the following three rash categories associate with COVID-19:

  • Hive-type rash (urticaria): 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. These rashes can present quite early on in the infection, but can also last a long time afterwards.
  • 'Prickly heat' or chicken pox-type rash (erythemato-papular or erythemato-vesicular rash): 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): 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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