A skin rash can sometimes be the only symptom of people infected with COVID-19, a study has concluded.
Three types of rashes are identified in the research by King's College London, leading those behind the study to call for skin rashes to be included as a fourth key symptom of COVID-19.
The three established symptoms of COVID-19, as recognised by the NHS, are a high temperature, a new and continuous cough, and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.
The study – which has been published online but has not yet been peer-reviewed – drew upon data from the 336,000 regular UK users of the COVID Symptom Study app.
With that data, researchers found 8.8% of people who tested positive for the virus suffered a skin rash among their symptoms, compared with 5.4% of those who tested negative.
Similar results were seen in a further 8.2% of users with a rash who did not have a coronavirus test, but still reported the three established COVID-19 symptoms: a cough, fever or loss of smell.
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To investigate further, the researchers conducted a separate online survey, which gathered images and information from nearly 12,000 people with skin rashes and suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
They said a particular effort was made to collect images from people of colour, who they said were "currently underrepresented in dermatology resources".
Some 17% of respondents testing positive for coronavirus reported a rash as the first symptom of the disease.
And for one in five people (21%) who reported a rash and were confirmed as being infected with coronavirus, the rash was their only symptom.
The study said rashes associated with COVID-19 fell into three categories:
Hive-type rash (urticaria):
- The sudden appearance of raised bumps on the skin, which come and go quite quickly over hours, and are usually very itchy.
- It can involve any part of the body, and often starts with intense itching of the palms or soles, and can cause swelling of the lips and eyelids.
- These rashes can present quite early on in the infection, but can also last a long time afterwards.
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