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Can Coronavirus Cause Skin Rashes? Dermatologists Think So

Facebook groups often serve as a safe space for people with shared experiences — from new moms to book lovers to dermatologists — to swap stories, advice, and new discoveries among peers. For doctors across the country in particular, and as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the US, many are putting their heads together in such groups to find ways to limit the spread of the coronavirus through photos and information they’ve gathered on the frontline.

One of the latest takeaways, dermatologist Sandra Lee, MD, (or widely known as Dr. Pimple Popper) told POPSUGAR, is the note of a common symptom people who have tested positive for the virus seem to share: skin rashes.

“Around 20 percent of people we’ve noticed are experiencing these skin rashes, these skin findings associated with COVID,” she said “They are even finding that they’re associated with people who are asymptomatic, meaning they don’t have any other symptoms but they end up testing positive, and this was their presentation, or this was their initial presentation before they got really sick. That can mean that you’re an asymptomatic carrier, and they’re finding that in young people. It doesn’t happen in everybody, but this is a sign, and it’s useful for nurses and physicians.”

To be clear, this finding has not been acknowledged by public health officials or the CDC, and if you notice any symptoms at all, your first course of action should be to call your doctor. Still, Dr. Lee says it could be especially helpful for anyone staying at home to know that a new skin eruption on you or someone you’ve been in contact with could be something to look out for — so that you can detect it early and limit the spread of the virus.

There are two rashes to look out for: chilbains and livedoid patterns. If you notice these for the first time and have never experienced them before, contact your doctor.

As for what to look for? “There are two rashes we’ve noticed,” she said (and in this next part, you might want to Google). “A lot of people are getting what is called chilbains, which looks like little purple bumps or spots on your fingers or toes that hurt when you touch them. The other rash is a net-like colored pattern you can get on your body called livedoid pattern. It’s the same signs as vasculitis, meaning inflammation in your blood vessels, but in these cases it’s not vasculitis.”

To help get the word out, Dr. Lee also created a video (above) to share the full details. “It’s so wonderful to see how doctors are all coming together online to share [their findings], and it’s working. This is how they’re saving lives.”

POPSUGAR aims to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, but details and recommendations about this pandemic may have changed since publication. For the latest information on COVID-19, please check out resources from the WHO, CDC, and local public health departments.

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