COVID can come with a range of symptoms, from the severe like shortness of breath, to symptoms that disguise themselves as the common cold, and, in some cases, patients have no symptoms at all. But one of the oddest aspects of COVID has been its effect on the skin. If you'd broken out in a rash this time last year, it'd be safe to assume it was from a new lotion you had used, a reaction to a medication, eczema, or another common occurrence. However, in 2020, you have to think twice when you experience any strange skin symptoms. Experts are still trying to pinpoint the distinct features of COVID-related rashes. "The challenge with most COVID-related rashes is that it is difficult to discern whether it is COVID or some other cause," says dermatologist Erum Ilyas, MD. But doctors do have a few tips on how to you can tell whether your rash is from COVID or not. Read on for the key signs to look out for, and for more signs of the virus, check out The Earliest Signs You Have COVID, According to Johns Hopkins.
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What does the rash look like?
Most illnesses that manifest on the skin have distinct rashes, but COVID-related rashes can take on many different appearances. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), COVID rashes can manifest as "a patchy rash, itchy bumps, blisters that look like chickenpox, round, pinpoint spots on the skin, a large patch with several smaller ones, a lace-like pattern on the skin, or lat spots and raised bumps that join together." If your rash resembles any of these descriptions, you should talk to your doctor. And for more up-to-date COVID news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
How long have you had the rash?
The AAD notes that more research needs to be conducted to pinpoint the duration of COVID rashes, however, "reports suggest that a rash typically lasts between two and 12 days, with most people having a rash for eight days." And for more symptoms to be aware of, check out If Your Symptoms Appear in This Order, You May Have Severe COVID.
Are your toes discolored?
Although COVID rashes can occur on various parts of the body, including the abdomen and arms, one of the most common COVID-related skin symptoms occurs on the toes. COVID toes appear as "blue/purple discoloration of the toes," says doctor and infectious disease expert Ceppie Merry, MD. "The toes may also be painful and swollen." According to Merry, these rashes are related to the vascular issues COVID causes. If your toes look off, you should talk with your doctor about whether or not to get tested for COVID. And for more on where the virus is spreading, check out This Is How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State.
Do you have other COVID symptoms?
If you're experiencing other common COVID symptoms along with your rash—like a cough, fever, trouble breathing, fatigue, a headache, runny nose, or a loss of taste or smell—then it's possible your rash is related to the virus and again, it's time to contact your doctor. And if you've had a bit of a cough lately, check out This Is How to Tell If Your Cough Is COVID, Doctors Say.