Research suggests that approximately one in ten people continue to experience COVID-19 symptoms after the initial infection and one in twenty people will go on to experience symptoms for 8 weeks or longer. In this blog, we investigate if Long COVID makes skin conditions worse.
Our knowledge about Long COVID is still evolving; however, it is now understood to be a heterogeneous illness, including continuing COVID-19 symptoms, post viral fatigue syndrome, organ damage and complications after time spent in intensive care.
A range of skin-related conditions have been connected to COVID-19. Researchers from the COVID Symptom Study app and the British Association of Dermatologists have recently shared images of the eight different skin conditions which include:
- COVID digits - dark, tender bumps or chilblains that appear on the fingers and toes and around the heels.
- Neck and exposed chest eczema - an flushed and possibly itchy rash that may appear any time during or post infection, on the neck and part of the chest that is exposed at the top of clothes.
- Oral - dry lips and sore mouth
- Papular and Vesicular - an itchy rash darker, bumpy areas that can appear anywhere on the body.
- Pityriasis Rosea - generally affecting children, there are reports of an initial large patch, followed by several smaller patches on the torso or proximal limbs.
- Purpuric - tiny bruise-like patches on the skin are caused by damage to superficial blood vessels.
- Urticarial - usually raised, intensely itchy patches that can appear very quickly and can cause swelling of the lips and eyelids. If the patient has lip swelling it is important to seek medical attention.
- Viral Exanthem - a symmetrical rash of blotches or bumps over the body and usually accompanied by other symptoms of a viral illness.
Any of these new skin conditions can be a sign of COVID-19 and so it is important to correctly identify and treat them accordingly, consulting your GP where necessary. There are various forums for support for Long COVID online.
Although Long COVID can cause skin conditions, there isn’t any evidence currently that it causes eczema or other skin conditions to flare up. That isn’t to say that the link doesn’t exist, just that enough data hasn’t yet been captured to prove a link. However, research is underway, and dermatologists around the world are creating registries of information on COVID-19 patients and their skin conditions.
What we do know is that skin conditions with an autoimmune origin can flare up when the bodily system is stressed. As we continue to live against a backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic and as we approach winter and flu season; it is really important to maintain general health to prevent these conditions from flaring.
We have lots of resources on how to boost your immune system and skin conditions on the Balmonds Info Hub. For up to date information regarding COVID-19, Long COVID and skin conditions, keep an eye on the British Association of Dermatologists website.
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If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
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