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COVID-19: The One Symptom / Sign That You Have COVID-19 Already

Since its advent in December 2019, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused 1,332,328 deaths, affecting over 55,349,529 people. Covid-19 can affect anyone, causing symptoms ranging from mild to very severe, where some people may be more likely to have severe illness than others because they have characteristics or medical conditions that increase their risk [1].

Several symptoms have been associated with the respiratory illness, with cough, fever, and shortness of breath being the most common signs of Covid-19 infection [2]. In a recent study conducted by Andrew Chan, a professor of immunology and infectious disease at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, one specific symptom could mean that a person had surely had Covid-19 [3].

Skin Rashes: The Definite COVID-19 Sign

The study finding holds value as Professor Chan is the co-founder of the COVID Symptom Study app, whose data is being used by researchers around the world [4]. It was pointed out that there has been a rise in cases of raised skin bumps and inflammation on fingers and toes (chilblains), now termed as COVID fingers [5].

The study claimed that skin rashes as such, should be considered a key diagnostic sign of the disease. Many people have reported experiencing dermatological issues without any other common symptoms of Covid-19 being present.

Three different types of skin rashes have been identified as the definite signs of Covid-19 and they are urticaria, erythematous-papular or erythematous-vesicular rash and chilblains.

1. Urticaria/Hive-type Rash

Urticaria, also known as hives, is an outbreak of swollen, pale red bumps on the skin. It appears on the skin suddenly, either because of the body's reaction to specific allergens, or for unknown reasons. Hives usually cause itching but may also burn or sting [6].

Urticaria is of different types such as acute urticaria, chronic urticaria and angioedema, physical urticaria and dermatographism.

In relation to Covid-19, the rashes can involve any part of the body, and often starts with intense itching of the palms or soles, also causing swelling on the eyelids and lips [7]. One may get these rashes when the infection begins or later.

2. Prickly Heat Or Chicken Pox-Type Rash/Erythematosus-Papular

This type of skin rashes appears as areas of small, itchy red bumps that can occur anywhere on the body [8]. They appear on the elbows and knees as well as the back of the hands and feet.

Erythematosus-papular can take days or weeks to subside [9].

3. Chilblains/COVID Fingers and Toes

Chilblains are painful inflammation of small blood vessels in your skin that occur in response to repeated exposure to cold but not freezing air [10]. It is also known as pernio and can cause itching, red patches, swelling and blistering on your hands and feet.

Out of these rashes, chilblains are more specific to Covid-19 and is common in younger people with the disease.

What To Do If You Develop Any Skin Rashes?

As directed by the health expert, while skin rashes may not be that common in COVID, they should be considered as specific signs. "Even though skin rashes may not be that common in COVID, the fact that they do arise, the fact that they may be a more specific sign, highlight how important it is to really assess their prevalence and how predictive they are [11]."

He continued, "It is important that people know that in some cases, a rash may be the first or only symptom of the disease. So, if you notice a new rash, you should take it seriously by self-isolating and getting tested as soon as possible."

On A Final Note...

Skin rashes are not a common sign of Covid-19, but a definitive and specific one. Viral infections are naturally prone to affect your skin, which Covid-19 is, therefore, if you notice any new rashes on your body, seek medical attention without fail.