Some COVID-19 patients are experiencing long-term skin problems

Brittany A. Roston - Oct 31, 2020, 3:21pm CDT
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Some COVID-19 patients are experiencing long-term skin problems

Though its respiratory symptoms are best known, experts have reported over the last several months that COVID-19 can cause other health issues in those afflicted with the virus. A new study reveals that one of those problems are skin lesions and rashes experienced by a small percentage of COVID-19 patients, including some instances in which the skin problems lasted for months.

The research comes from Massachusetts General Hospital, which reports “persistent skin-related symptoms” that have manifest in some COVID-19 patients “long after” the respiratory disease was cleared from their system. These people are popularly referred to as long-haul patients, meaning they apparently recover from the respiratory disease, but continue to experience various issues that seemingly prevent a full and proper recovery.

In April 2020, a COVID-19 international registry was created to monitor cases in which skin issues were present. With months of data now available, researchers report that some ‘long-haul’ COVID-19 patients have experienced urticarial eruptions, morbilliform, papulosquamous eruptions, and swelling and redness on their hands and feet.

These skin problems were found to last for as little as four days and, in one case, as long as 70 days, with many cases lasting around two to four weeks. The exception is the redness and swelling issue dubbed ‘COVID toes,’ which seemed to have the greatest potential for long-lasting symptoms — half a dozen of the reported patients had symptoms last for at least 60 days and two unfortunate patients suffered from COVID toes for more than 130 days.

The study’s senior author Esther E. Freeman explained:

Our findings reveal a previously unreported subset of patients with long-standing skin symptoms from COVID-19, in particular those with COVID toes. This data adds to our knowledge about the long-term effects of COVID-19 in different organ systems. The skin is potentially a visible window into inflammation that could be going on in the body.


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