5 Ways COVID-19 Affects The Skin

From an impaired sense of smell and taste down to the more commonly known respiratory symptoms, COVID-19 affects multiple parts of our body in ways we don’t completely understand yet.  However, a new symptom visible to the naked eye has been bugging the medical community.

In the past few months, healthcare professionals have been studying reports of different types of skin rashes that appear due to COVID-19. As researchers try to dig deeper into these skin rashes, it seems clear that the effects of COVID-19 infection go beyond just the lungs.


Urticaria, more commonly known as hives, is an outbreak of pink or red itchy rashes that appear as pink blotches or raised red lumps. Patients feel intense itching of the palms or soles following their body’s reaction to certain allergens, viral infections, or for some unknown reasons. 

Although the swellings usually disappear after minutes to hours, others feel the itchiness for a long time. If the itch reaches the face, urticaria can cause swelling of the lips and eyelids. Fortunately, antihistamines work with these hives.


Doctors around the world have noticed that some COVID-19 positive patients experience discoloration and swelling on one or several toes or fingers. This chilblain-mimicking symptom, which appears late in the infection period, can also cause itch, pain, and rough skin. Others may see small blisters and even pustules under their skin.

Medical professionals apply hydrocortisone cream to the affected toes of those with COVID-19.


Doctors are also trying to understand the connection between COVID-19 and a certain skin pattern called livedo reticularis. This purplish lace-like, fishnet skin manifestation is present among patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The purplish discoloration pattern of the skin is mainly due to blockages of the blood vessels. This occurs when the body’s immune system reacts to the virus.


Photo from National Center for Biotechnology Information

Another skin symptom that COVID-19 some patients got is the vesicular eruption. These chickenpox-like blisters on the skin appear early in the disease and last even after the contagious is over. 

Red and bumpy rashes may occur all over the body, elbows, knees, the back of the hands, and feet. According to a news report, middle‐aged patients suffer the manifestation more commonly as the blisters at least last over ten days.


Photo from Cureus

Morbilliform eruption is a non-specific viral rash that’s a common skin sign of many viruses and drug reactions. In an Italian cohort of 18 patients with COVID-19 who developed cutaneous abnormalities, 14 of them had a morbilliform eruption, a medical article stated.

It’s important to note that even if the skin manifestations appear, it does not necessarily mean you have the virus. We still don’t know much about said viral disease. More research is needed to get a clearer picture of all these skin manifestations. Let’s start paying attention to our skin and view the skin as a window of our immune systems.


The information presented on AllergyKB is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Our knowledge base website is for general informational purposes only. It should not be construed as a standard of care to be followed by a user of the website. We highly urge everyone to always seek the advice of their physician or other qualified health providers.

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