Dermatology and COVID19: What You Should Know

You’re likely familiar with the tell-tale, flu-like symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, difficulty breathing, body aches, and the like. But as we continue to study this virus, we’ve learned that not everyone experiences it the same way. 

Some people lose their sense of smell and taste or go through bouts of nausea and vomiting, and others experience a whole new category of COVID-19 symptoms: skin issues. 

At Wallace Skin and Body Institute, Dr. Paul Wallace and our staff are committed to helping you identify the cause of your skin problems and rashes. With all of the fear and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, we want to share our best information about the virus and its effects on the skin so that you can get the correct treatments. 

COVID-19 and your skin

It might sound strange that a virus that causes flu-like symptoms can also present with rashes and skin problems. Still, research shows that many COVID-19 patients, especially those who struggle with symptoms long after receiving treatment known as long-haulers, develop skin issues. 

The first reports of COVID-19-related skin issues came from patients hospitalized in Italy — one of the hardest-hit countries during the early progressions of the virus. 

Dermatologists there found that 20% of COVID-19 patients had skin symptoms. 44% of those patients had skin issues at the onset of the virus, and 55% developed rashes during hospitalization. 

Fortunately, these rashes are not severe or life-threatening and typically resolve within a few days. It’s not uncommon for your body to respond with blotchy skin or rashes when infected with a virus of any kind, such as the common flu virus. The skin issues associated with COVID-19 are often rashes you might develop with other viral illnesses.

Skin issues associated with COVID-19

Skin issues, though present in many COVID-19 patients, are not yet a widespread symptom of COVID-19. However, it’s crucial to pay attention to all of the potential warning signs of the virus so you can get treated as soon as possible. Here are some common skin issues associated with COVID-19.

COVID toes

COVID toes are lesions that look similar to chilblains, pernio, or frostbite. The painful red-purple bumps can appear on the tops of your toes and fingers, as well as the soles of your feet. 

Viral exanthem

This is the medical name given to a general widespread rash that accompanies other viral infection symptoms, including fever, malaise, and headache. 

Chickenpox-like blisters

Some COVID-19 patients have presented with a rash that looked similar to chickenpox. As with chickenpox, their skin had broken out in tiny blisters.

Kawasaki disease

This lacy red rash is most common in children who are 6 months to 5 years old. This rare disease that leads to acquired heart disease is linked to viral infections, such as COVID-19. 

Other skin issues

COVID-19 can also cause other skin issues to develop, including:

It’s important that you note any new or worsening skin issues and report them to Dr. Wallace, especially if they’re accompanied by other common COVID-19 symptoms. 

Treating your COVID-19 skin issues

Because the skin issues associated with COVID-19 are mild and typically resolve on their own, Dr. Wallace recommends seeking treatment for the virus, which can include over-the-counter and prescription medication, as well as rest and isolation from others as you recuperate. 

Suppose your skin issues persist after you’ve recovered from the virus or should they be severe or cause discomfort. In that case, Dr. Wallace can prescribe the necessary medications and therapies to address your specific problem. 

Don’t hesitate to call our Ladera Heights, California office for more information or request an evaluation with Dr. Wallace.

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