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According to a new study carried out in Spain and published in the British Journal of Dermatology, five skin conditions can be linked to coronavirus.
Spanish dermatologists in the Spanish Academy of Dermatology were asked to help identify patients who had an unexplained skin “eruption” in the last two weeks and those who had suspected or confirmed coronavirus.
In order to do this, patients were given a standardised questionnaire and photos were taken of skin conditions.
However, the British Association of Dermatologists is urging the public not to self diagnose coronavirus based on skin symptoms.
‘There have been a variety of skin conditions which have been evident in covid-19 patients,’ says Lucy Xu, lead skin specialist and founder of London Premier Laser Skin Clinics (opens in new tab). ‘However, it’s hard to say whether these are directly related to the virus or infection.’
But these key types of skin changes have been found in a number of patients:
1. Vesicular eruptions (itchy blisters)
‘Itchy blisters are one skin condition to look out for, these have been described by doctors as small red blisters, similar looking to cold sores which you may see in conditions such as herpes or chicken pox (opens in new tab), however it has been noted that these are more common in older patients,’ says Lucy.
These are caused by inflamed blood vessels in the skin, and are ‘characterised by purple or red lesions and some cases, swelling. These can usually be found on the lower body,’ says Emma Coleman, dermatology and aesthetic registered general nurse (emmacolemanskin.com).
In the study, this condition was found in 9 per cent of cases, with outbreaks lasting an average of 10.4 days. They also commonly appeared prior to other symptoms and were linked to an intermediate severity of the disease.
2. Urticarial lesions
The study also found identified in 19 per cent of cases, “urticarial lesions”. These consist of pink or white raised areas of skin resembling a nettle rash and are also known as wheals. These are usually itchy and can be spread across the body and, in some cases, may also spread to the palms of hands.
Found in 47 per cent of cases, maculopapues are characterised by ‘bumps which are small either raised or flat areas of skin that may look similar to the skin condition, Pityriasis Rosea,' says Lucy.'This skin condition has been found in a number of covid-19 patients and is a tell-tale sign you may be infected with the virus.’
Urticarial injuries lasted an average of 6.8 days, whilst a maculopapuar condition lasted a couple more.
4. Livedo or necrosis
‘This is caused by reduced oxygen supply to the skin, often affecting the trunk, buttocks and legs,’ says Emma. It has a blotchy red or blue appearance with a net-like pattern. The study said patients showed different degrees of lesions pointing to “occlusive vascular disease”, where a narrowing or blocking of arteries occurs, limiting blood flow to certain areas of the body.
This was found in 6 percent of cases and was linked to older patients experiencing severe cases of covid-19.
5. Chilblain-like symptoms
In 19 per cent of cases, the study identified chilblain-like symptoms (opens in new tab). 'These affect the hands and feet and may be similar in appearance to the small itchy swellings of chilblains,' says Lucy. 'This type of condition often shows small red or sometimes purple spots which are caused by bleeding under the skin and are usually scattered on the skin.'
If you notice any of these skin conditions, consult a doctor before diagnosing yourself with covid-19.