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'COVID fingers' and other skin abnormalities: new symptoms of coronavirus detected

Much remains to be learned about the new coronavirus, including a wide range of symptoms that seem to be expanding. Common symptoms of a respiratory illness include fever, cough, shortness of breath and chills, but sometimes doctors report less obvious symptoms in some patients, including what some call “COVID fingers” and other manifestations on the skin. Writes about this CBS News.

Photo: Shutterstock

Esther Freeman, director of global healthcare and dermatology at the Massachusetts Hospital and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, says the cases of COVID fingers are like frostbite or ulcers, a condition of inflamed blood vessels caused by cold temperatures.

“We see the symptoms that we usually see when someone is exposed to cold temperatures,” Freeman said. "Nevertheless, when we are infected with coronavirus, we observe this in a warm climate and we see it in patients who were in warm rooms."

Freeman said viruses cause a rash, so most dermatologists are not surprised that COVID-19 can cause skin symptoms. “What surprises me is the“ COVID fingers, ”these frostbite-like lesions because we did not see similar symptoms in other viruses.”

“I've seen more toes at my clinic in the past two weeks than in my entire previous career,” said Freeman, a member of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) COVID-19 Task Force.

On the subject: 'Numerous cases': doctors called another unobvious symptom of coronavirus

In addition to seeing skin symptoms in her patients, Freeman also received examples of these symptoms from medical professionals from around the world. The AAD COVID-19 Task Force has created an international registry for physicians so that they can send examples of dermatological manifestations of COVID-19 to help further investigate these symptoms. Until now, doctors from 21 different countries send information to the registry.

Freeman said COVID fingers have been seen in both children and adults. Sometimes they are present along with the more typical symptoms of the coronavirus, and sometimes they are the only symptom that the patient experiences.

“In fact, about half of the registry show other symptoms as well,” Freeman said.

Some doctors have reported seeing skin diseases that look like a crescent (like measles) rash, hives, or chicken pox.

In fact, one of the first series of cases of dermatological manifestations of coronavirus included 18 Italian patients with several skin abnormalities, including redness, hives, and a rash.

Freeman says that her own patients tend to address her with two main problems. “The first thing they want to know is:“ My fingers are purple, will I really get sick? ” and second: “Can I infect members of my family?”

Freeman said it was important to be careful because some patients with COVID fingers could still be contagious and should talk with their doctor about testing for coronavirus.

“The general message I want to convey to the public is not to panic,” Freeman said. "Most patients who have COVID fingers are doing very well."

“If you need to go to the emergency room because you are sick or have other symptoms for which you need to be tested, that's okay. But if you have only one symptom - purple fingers, you don't need to panic and quickly go to the ambulance, ”Freeman said, adding that if a patient finds skin abnormalities on his body, he should talk to a doctor.

A group of dermatologists from Brussels, Belgium, and Portland, Oregon, also studied toe and skin lesions in connection with COVID-19. Their report says that it’s important for dermatologists to recognize the signs of the disease.

On the subject: New US study: 96% of coronavirus-infected people have no symptoms

Researchers write about a 23-year-old man who for three days had purple and painful spots on his toes and on the outside of his legs. A few days earlier, he also had mild fever and a dry cough.

After a full examination of the skin, the patient received a positive result on COVID-19. Researchers say he was diagnosed with coronavirus frostbite, a medical term for skin ulcers. According to the researchers, similar cases were observed by French and Belgian dermatologists, but they were not previously reported due to lack of testing.

“Young patients suffering from ulcers did not have sufficient criteria to test for the presence of coronavirus,” the study said. “Due to the recent outbreak of 'COVID-fingers', along with the increase in cases of coronavirus infection, COVID-19 disease has come to be seen as a possible cause,” they write.

This study examined cases of coronavirus infection in children and young people whose legs were more affected than their arms.

"Ulcers may be the first symptom of COVID-19, and fever and dry cough may be minimal or even absent," the study said.

As ForumDaily wrote earlier:

  • Doctors in the United States and China note that among those infected, increased number of people with kidney failure. As a result, in hospitals, an acute shortage of hemodialysis machines (“artificial kidneys”), as well as medical staff who can handle such patients, not to mention the necessary drugs, is already noticeable.
  • Coronavirus infection is not limited to respiratory infections. As practical research shows, in a significant number of patients, the virus also affects the nervous system. The mechanism of its effect on nerve cells has not yet been studied, however, scientists have no doubt that there is some connection: a temporary loss of taste or smell was recognized as specific symptoms of COVID-19 back in mid-March.
Miscellaneous Educational program symptoms coronavirus Special Projects

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Rabies, influenza and smallpox: 12 of the deadliest viruses on Earth

Coronavirus was in the US long before it was discovered: could a cold in January and February be COVID-19

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