Covid-19 may also show up on the skin

Pustules, blisters, itchy spots: An infection with the new corona virus can also leave traces on the skin. Analyzes show which symptoms can indicate Covid-19.

Although the novel  corona virus  has been spreading rapidly around the world for many months, there are still many unknown factors relating to the pathogen. This also applies to the symptoms of the lung disease Covid-19. It is now not only clear that a number of infected people do not develop any symptoms at all. Physicians keep discovering new symptoms that have not yet been linked to SARS-CoV-2. The latest finding: the virus can also affect the skin.

Observations in patients from Italy show that skin damage occurs in around every fifth Covid-19 patient. A study published by Spanish medical professionals in the British Journal of Dermatology has now examined skin changes in 375 patients from Spain who were likely or confirmed to be infected with Covid-19.

Five typical skin changes caused by Covid-19 

The dermatologist Dr. Cristina Galván Casas from the Hospital Universitario de Móstoles in Madrid and four of her colleagues were able to identify five different clinical patterns of skin changes when analyzing medical reports and photos.

  1. Scaly and reddened skin areas: The so-called maculopapular eruptions showed 47 percent of the patients examined in the analysis. The scaling of the skin was different, the redness can also be different: for some people they were rather punctiform, for others they were spread over the skin. These symptoms were particularly evident in patients with a severe course of Covid-19. The study authors therefore point out that the skin changes in these patients could also be side effects of the medication taken.
  2. Wheals : This skin change occurred in 19 percent of those affected in the Spanish study, often associated with itching. The so-called urticarial lesions formed primarily on the trunk, but also on the inside of the hands in some patients.
  3. Blisters on the skin: These small blisters filled with blood were found primarily on the trunk, but also on the limbs. They spread over time and mostly caused itching. Nine percent of the analyzed cases in Spain showed these vesicular eruptions. Most of them appeared at the beginning of Covid 19 disease, and some even had other symptoms.
  4. Necrosis : This is severe skin damage caused by an insufficient supply of blood to the skin. The damage occurred on the trunk, and in some people also on the nose, chin, ears, toes and fingers. Older Covid 19 patients who underwent a severe course of the disease developed necrosis. The death rate in this group was ten percent. 
  5. Pseudo-frostbite : These are swollen areas of the skin that are partially blistered or pustular. In the Spanish analysis, 19 percent of the patients examined showed this skin anomaly, which occurs on the hands or feet. Around a third of these patients reported that these skin areas were itchy and painful. The pattern, referred to as pseudo chilblain by dermatologists because of the similarity to real frostbite, was observed especially in younger patients with only mild Covid-19 symptoms. In addition, 59 percent of patients with this skin change only got this symptom after other signs of Covid-19 had already subsided. Other skin changes typically occurred at the same time as other symptoms caused by SARS-CoV-2.