There are so many adverse effects of COVID-19, such as prolonged headaches, aches and pains, fogginess and general feelings of being unwell. But what impact does it have on your skin? We know about the health effects from inside, but outside COVID has additional reactions that can cause issues with our skin and complexion. If you have experienced one of the many strains of COVID then you may or may not be familiar with these traits. Below we have listed the top recorded COVID triggered skin conditions from the current strains and tips on how to combat these signs.
This is one of the more common ailments for the skin during and after some strains of COVID-19. It has been found from recent studies that around a quarter of people suffer from hives or urticaria. This is a raised area of itchy skin that you may have experienced from an allergic reaction. As viral conditions are known to trigger hives, this symptom has become an important part of diagnosing the virus as it tends to appear along with other symptoms. It is especially prevalent in middle-aged patients. The breakdown of cells in response to the virus releases histamines and presents as hives.
As a result, antihistamines are an effective treatment for hives. You can apply a cold compress to the affected area to provide some relief from itching. Wearing loose-fitting clothing to avoid rubbing on the skin will help to not exacerbate the condition. Finally, applying sunscreen or a moisturiser with sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun will prevent the hives from getting any worse.
Water blisters are fluid-filled blisters that form under the top few layers of the skin. They often appear at the beginning of the virus, but also can be present at any time. They have been seen in all areas of the body, but the majority of patients find that they exist mostly on the hands. Those who are both middle-aged and experiencing medium severity symptoms of COVID-19. Although these are not the only people who can contract water blisters, this is the most common group to report these symptoms. They generally last around ten days maximum and will resolve without treatment.
These blisters should never be punctured. This will cause them to take far longer to fully heal, The best approach is to cover the affected area with an adhesive bandage. Aloe vera gel applied to the blister can reduce pain if it is present. Vitamin E cream will prevent scarring when the blister is almost fully healed. Avoiding pressure on the blister will prevent it from popping, which will speed up the healing process exponentially.
The COVID-19 virus can cause rashes which are both raised and flat areas of discoloured skin. Almost half of all people who contract the virus will experience some sort of rash at one point in their illness. Rashes are very common when it comes to many different diseases, so they have many creams and lotions that will help to soothe the affected areas of the skin. They help to calm the itch and redness. The rashes mostly come after the virus has passed, usually around 30 days post-COVID. Middle-aged and elderly patients are most likely to contract a rash following COVID. The rashes tend to last anywhere from a week to three weeks. It is thought to be a result of the body’s immune system going into overdrive to combat the virus, in the hyperinflammatory phase of the infection. In the more severe cases, it can be the first sign of detrimental tissue damage which in the worst-case scenario can result in death. This reaction is very rare.
The red, swollen and blistering skin mainly affects the toes and soles of the feet. This condition does have a colloquial name, “COVID toes”. Although they can be uncomfortable, over time the condition will dissipate and eventually resolve itself. Interestingly, this symptom has been seen primarily in young adults and adolescents. Especially when they experience little to no other symptoms. Of all the skin conditions associated with COVID-19, this is the most common. It accounts for 60% of all related skin conditions for people with the virus. There is no direct link to when the lesions appear in patients. They can be present at any point during the virus. Many of the people who experienced the lesions found that they appeared before they tested positive for the virus, and even up to a month after they tested negative afterwards. This is a very wide range for this symptom.
There is no real conclusion in regards to how COVID presents as these lesions, but it is suspected that it is linked to a compromised immune system. This could be a result of damaged blood vessels. Topical steroids can assist in the healing of this COVID symptom. Other medications that may assist include antibiotics, paracetamol and antihistamines. All of these can minimise the effects and clear up your ‘COVID toes’ quickly without the itching and pain.