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COVID-19 Causes Skin Disorders in Rare Circumstances

COVID-19 symptoms often vary from person to person, but coughing, fever and difficulty breathing are some of the most common issues. However, coronavirus has been shown to affect the skin in rare circumstances.

Like chickenpox and measles, it’s possible for COVID patients to develop a severe rash that could be mistaken for hives.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the rash can vary drastically including a patchy rash, itchy bumps, chickenpox-like blisters and a lace-like pattern.

Doctors across the world also noticed some patients who test positive for COVID-19 developed discolored and swollen fingers and/or toes, AAD said. This condition is often called “COVID toes.”

“The swelling and discoloration can begin on one or several toes or fingers,” said Amy Paller, MD, FAAD, Chair of Dermatology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “At first you might see a bright red color that gradually turns to purple. COVID toes can also begin with a purplish color.”

According to AAD, COVID toes can also cause blisters, itchiness and pain. Some patients may even develop painful raised bumps, patches of rough skin or even a small amount of pus.

Treatment of COVID toes usually entailed a hydrocortisone cream applied to the affected area, however, a dermatologist may be necessary if symptoms worsen.

“While COVID toes go away without treatment, it’s still too soon to know how long most people have the condition,” Paller said. “It can last for 10 to 14 days. Some patients have COVID toes for months.”

As COVID-19 is still a relatively new disease, it is uncertain exactly why some people develop skin disorders.

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