It would seem that getting infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus can have repercussions on your skin as well. A recent study suggests that patients with covid-19 have skin-related symptoms long after their initial infection clears up.
The findings—presented at the 29th Congress of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), US—focused on the long-haulers of covid-19. Long-haulers are people who even though test negative for the virus, never seem to recover from the disease.
For the analysis, the American researchers established an international registry for covid-19 skin manifestations in April 2020. Clinicians were contacted in June and August to update covid-19 lab test results and the duration of patients’ skin symptoms. The team defined long haulers as anyone with skin symptoms of covid-19 that persisted for at least 60 days.
The team evaluated almost 1,000 cases of patients with skin manifestations of covid-19. Measles-like rashes and urticarial eruptions lasted for a median of seven days and four days respectively for patients with lab-confirmed covid-19 with a maximum duration of 28 days.
Papulosquamous eruptions, which are scaly papules and plaques, lasted a median of 20 days in lab-confirmed cases, with one confirmed long hauler eruption lasting 70 days.
Redness and swelling of the feet and hands, commonly known as covid toes, lasted a median of 15 days in patients with suspected covid-19 and 10 days in lab-confirmed cases. Notably, six patients with these symptoms were long haulers with toe symptoms lasting at least 60 days, with two lab-confirmed patients with covid toes lasting longer than 130 days.
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“Our findings reveal a previously unreported subset of patients with long-standing skin symptoms from covid-19, in particular those with covid toes. This data adds to our knowledge about the long-term effects of covid-19 in different organ systems. The skin is potentially a visible window into inflammation that could be going on in the body,” said senior author Esther E. Freeman, MD, PhD, director of Global Health Dermatology at MGH.