A rash can sometimes be the only symptom for people infected with COVID-19, according to one study.
The King & # 39; s College London study identified three types of rashes that prompt those behind the study to include rashes as the fourth key symptom of COVID-19.
The three symptoms of COVID-19As recognized by the NHS, high temperature, a new and persistent cough, and loss or change in your sense of smell or taste.
The study – which was published on-line However, it has not yet been reviewed by experts. It was based on data from the 336,000 regular UK users of the COVID Symptom Study app.
Using these data, the researchers found that 8.8% of people who tested positive for the virus had a rash among their symptoms, compared to 5.4% of those who tested negative.
Similar results were seen in a further 8.2% of skin rash users who did not have a coronavirus test but still reported the three symptoms of COVID 19 identified: cough, fever, or loss of smell.
For further investigation, the researchers conducted a separate online survey that collected images and information from nearly 12,000 people with rashes and suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
They said special efforts were made to collect images of people with color who "are currently underrepresented in dermatological resources".
About 17% of respondents who tested positive for coronavirus stated that a rash was the first symptom of the disease.
And for one in five people (21%) who reported a rash and were confirmed to be infected with coronavirus, the rash was their only symptom.
The study found that rashes related to COVID-19 were divided into three categories:
Beehive rash (urticaria):
- The sudden appearance of raised bumps on the skin that come and go fairly quickly for hours and are usually very itchy.
- It can affect any part of the body and often starts with itching of the palms or soles of the feet and can cause swelling of the lips and eyelids.
- These rashes can appear very early in the infection, but can also persist long afterwards.
"Prickly heat" or chickenpox rash:
- Areas with small, itchy red bumps that can appear anywhere on the body, but especially on the elbows and knees as well as on the back of the hands and feet.
- The rash can last for days or weeks.
COVID fingers and toes (frostbite):
- Reddish and purple 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 condition, and tends to occur later.
The main author Dr. Veronique Bataille, a dermatologist at St. Thomas & # 39; Hospital and King & # 39; s College London, said: "Many viral infections can affect the skin, so it is not surprising that we see these rashes in COVID-19.
"However, it is important that people know that in some cases a rash can be the first or only symptom of the disease.
"So if you notice a new rash, you should take it seriously by isolating yourself and testing it as soon as possible."
Although COVID-19 is often considered a respiratory virus, rashes have been reported in a number of cases in people in China and elsewhere in Europe who needed hospitalization for severe symptoms of the disease.
However, this is the first and largest study to systematically collect data on milder rashes across the population.
The consulting dermatologist Dr. Justine Kluk said: "These results show how important it is to keep an eye on new skin changes such as lumps, bumps or rashes.
"Early reporting of COVID-associated rashes by members of the public and recognition of their importance by frontline doctors – such as general practitioners, NHS 111, and hospital staff – can improve the detection of coronavirus infections and help stop the spread."