Reports of patients with COVID-19 developing skin rashes are starting to pop up around the world.
Reports in journal JAMA Dermatology show these COVID-19 rashes don’t all look the same. Some appear as tiny red spots, while others look like large flat or raised lesions. Some look like hives. Others look like frostbitten toes.
The idea of this coronavirus causing a rash isn’t surprising. Many viral illnesses, like chickenpox and measles, cause a rash. But they’re more common in kids than adults.
There’s a lot we don’t know about COVID-19 rashes. How common are they? One study out of China found skin rashes in less than 1 percent of patients. A study out of Italy found rashes in 20% of hospitalized patients.
Are these rashes caused by the new coronavirus? Or are they related to your immune system ramping up to fight the virus, reactions to medications or a co-infection with another virus?
And what do they really mean for you? Does having a rash mean you are likely to have a better or worse outcome? Some patients with “COVID toes” have been reported to have mild or asymptomatic cases of COVID-19.
We’ll know more in the coming months, but if you notice an unusual rash, it might be worthwhile to talk to your doctor about it.