The Exchange

Commentary and Observations from
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Skin Manifestations of COVID-19

Skin Manifestations of COVID-19

By now it is well known that COVID-19 is an illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that may lead to serious respiratory disease.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, loss of smell and taste, and fatigue. However, numerous skin manifestations have also been reported in patients with COVID-19. Of course, some viral illnesses can cause rashes, though this is more typically seen in children. The exact incidence of skin eruptions in adult patients with COVID-19 remains unclear, though one study suggests rates as high as 20%.

The most common coronavirus-related rashes are grouped into five categories: a "maculopapular" rash, or one that's characteristic of viral infections such as measles, with red bumps on reddish skin; an "urticarial" rash characteristic of hives; a "livedo rash" with a lace-like or fishnet pattern; a "vesicular eruption" or blistering rash; and a frostbite-like rash on the toes, unofficially dubbed "COVID toes."

We still have a tremendous amount to learn about the cutaneous manifestations of this disease, and there are currently more questions than answers. If there are, in fact, specific COVID-19 cutaneous manifestations, it will be important to determine if they have any clinical value.

For more information regarding COVID-19, visit the PCE COVID-19 Resource Center.

  • Recalcati S. Cutaneous manifestations in COVID‐19: a first perspective. JEADV. 2020;34:e212-e213.
  • Rettner R. More than 'covid toes': Numerous reports of skin rashes tied to COVID-19. Accessed Jul 28, 2020.
  • Tay YLA, et al. COVID-19. Accessed Jul 28, 2020.
  • Young S, Fernandez A. Skin manifestations of COVID-19. Cleveland Clin J of Med. 2020; [Epub ahead of print].

Filed under: Dermatology, Infectious Diseases

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