Dermatologists Warn Of Potential Skin Conditions That Could Be Symptoms For Covid-19

Dermatologists all across the world are collecting data and warning their patients about potential overlooked symptoms for Covid-19 that relate to our skin. The two main conditions they’re warning about are skin rashes/irritation and “pseudo-frostbite,” which is what occurs when a person is experiencing all the symptoms of frostbite without actually being exposed to a cold environment. 

Dermatologists and skin experts alike began looking into these symptoms because many viral illnesses, such as the chickenpox or mono, are often accompanied by specific skin rashes as a result of the body’s heightened inflammatory response which occurs to fight off the infection. While there hasn’t been a ton of research put into skin irritation and its relation to the Covid-19 virus, some patients have exhibited symptoms on their skin. ‘

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One expert recently wrote a piece for the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, and described the skin conditions of 22 patients who were suffering from the coronavirus and skin irritations in Italy. The patients all had a red rash on their torsos, while a few of them developed hives that looked like chickenpox. 

In another statement issued and signed by over 400 dermatologists in France, experts emphasized that almost all of the Covid-19 patients that they’ve seen had some sort of hive, red-rash, or frostbite-like lesions on their bodies. The dermatologists described the rashes to be a “rare but specific Covid-19-associated skin manifestation.”

This skin-manifestation is what experts are referring to as “pseudo-frostbite” or “Covid toes” as it mainly has been appearing in patients’ toes. There have been over 100 cases of the condition reported in the US, according to the Covid-19 symptom registry kept by the American Academy of Dermatology. Within these cases patients have been described to have “purple, bruise-like bumps and swelling” on their toes and other extremities.

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“I’ve seen all of the [skin] conditions among suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients in New York City, and found the range of possible symptoms to be remarkable. For a virus to do all of these things that it’s doing within the first five months of existing in humans is pretty striking to me. Patients who end up hospitalized often develop a pink, itchy rash across their torso and limbs, while others develop hives or, less commonly, a chickenpox-like rash,” said Dr. Alisa Femia, director of inpatient dermatology and a specialist in autoimmune connective tissue disease at NYU Langone.

Femia went on to discuss how it’s difficult for health care workers to determine if these rashes are actually related to the virus itself, or more so related to the medications being used to help treat the virus. If that’s the case, these skin irritations are a side-effect, not a symptom, which would be an extremely important distinction to make. 

Individuals who have also experienced “Covid toes” haven’t experienced any other symptoms for the virus, which as a result denied them the opportunity to get tested, making it even more difficult to determine what’s causing these irritations and rashes. The biggest concern, according to Femia, is determining if these conditions are the result of a blood-flow issue brought on by the coronavirus. If that’s the case, experts need to know sooner than later, as small blood clots within the skin could mean there are other blood clots within the body that we can’t see, which can lead to even more serious issues. 

Other dermatologists are hoping to use these inflammatory responses to help find a drug treatment for Covid-19. Some experts are studying the way that traditional anti-inflammatory medicines/topicals not only combat these virus-related skin conditions, but the virus itself. Only time will tell how related these symptoms are to the virus, but for now, like with every other aspect of this pandemic, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Loss Of Smell And Taste Deemed New Symptom For Coronavirus

Anosmia is the loss of the sense of smell and ageusia is a diminished sense of taste that usually comes as a result of anosmia. These two ailments have recently become two signs of potential COVID-19 infection based on multiple cases in which those who contracted coronavirus described their symptoms as including a lack of smell and taste. 

Doctors from the United Kingdom recently reported that they’ve received multiple calls from international colleagues claiming that they’re forcing any individual who’s experiencing a loss in their sense of smell or taste to self-quarantine themselves, even if they’re not experiencing any other symptoms. 

“[We’re] urging health care workers to use personal protective equipment when treating any patients who have lost their senses of smell, and advised against performing nonessential sinus endoscopy procedures on anyone, because the virus replicates in the nose and the throat and an exam can prompt coughs or sneezes that expose the doctor to a high level of virus,” said Professor Claire Hopkins, president of the British Rhinological Society.

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Reports from Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus initially emerged, specifically stated that ear, nose, throat, and even eye specialists (otolaryngologist’s) were the most infected healthcare provider demographic in the country, likely due to being exposed to the virus through their work long before we knew the extent of damage COVID-19 would cause. 

According to data provided by the American Academy of Otolaryngology (AAO), 30% of 2,000 coronavirus patients in South Korea stated they experienced some level of anosmia as their most intense symptom, these cases were also reported to be the most mild. The AAO states that the evidence now indicates a complete loss or reduction in one’s sense of smell or taste is a significant symptom of COVID-19, and any individual experiencing such should be tested immediately and self-quarantine, as a majority of the patients who experienced these symptoms didn’t report having any other ailments, despite being positive. 

China, Italy, and Iran, have all reported a high rate of positive coronavirus results among their otolaryngologist population, many of which resulted in death due to an extensive amount of time in which these individuals were left untreated, which has made protecting healthcare providers a top priority. Doctors have concluded that an individual who seems completely healthy could be unknowingly carrying and spreading the virus because they aren’t experiencing any of the traditional symptoms to cause concern. 

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“Roughly half of the patients have experienced a smell or taste disorder, and the sensory loss usually presented after the first symptoms of respiratory illness, but could be used to distinguish people who should be tested. The patients regained their ability to smell after a few days or weeks, and the loss occurred regardless of how sick they got or whether they were congested. Using nasal drops or sprays did not help,” said a physician who studied a cluster of coronavirus patients in Germany.

The main priority needs to be testing, and equal distribution of that testing among all citizens. There are still hundreds of thousands of individuals in America alone who do have the traditional symptoms associated with COVID-19, but are still waiting to be granted access to proper testing. Many of these patients have also reported a loss of smell or taste, despite not having any sort of congestion issues. 

Staying informed, distanced from the public, and clean are the best things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting and spreading this virus. If you’re experiencing any sort of symptoms, regardless of how minor, don’t hesitate to call a professional to get your best course of action. It’s important, now more than ever, to be totally diligent and responsible when it comes to our health.

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How Worried Should You Be About The Coronavirus?

If you’ve been keeping up with the news as of late, you most likely have heard about the coronavirus that’s causing some hysteria. However, whenever a new outbreak of disease occurs, there’s a lot of misinformation and media-induced panic that circulates throughout the internet, causing people to become much more anxious than they likely need to be. In times such as this, it’s important to research the facts, and best methods for keeping yourself healthy. 

First, we need to understand where this virus originated; in this case it’s the city of Wuhan, China. The current strain of coronavirus that is spreading is known as a “novel coronavirus” meaning that it’s a strain that’s never been encountered by human beings before. Those originally infected in Wuhan are believed to have contracted it from the Huanan seafood wholesale market located in the center of Wuhan. This market see’s some of the most foot traffic for the area on any given day and the virus likely grew within the fish that were sold and distributed amongst hundreds of Chinese citizens. As we know, this would not be the first instance in which humans contracted a new disease from animals; swine flu and Ebola being a few notable examples. 

The symptoms of this virus aren’t that different from the flu when it’s in its most minor form. Those with the coronavirus have experienced severe coughs, fever, and breathing difficulties. The biggest concern regarding the virus is that it causes pneumonia, and in the most severe cases organ failure. Since it’s a viral form of pneumonia, antibiotics and traditional flu medicines won’t work to combat it. 

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It’s important to note now that those who have been drastically affected by the virus, or have unfortunately passed due to its symptoms, were, for the most part, already in poor health. Such as when an older individual contracts pneumonia or the flu, they’re at a greater risk for further complications simply due to their age and the health of their bodies. So when you see tweets or headlines regarding the rising death rates due to this virus, know that for the most part the deaths were caused by a combination of ailments that the coronavirus further amplified. 

The virus, like any other, is spread from human to human transmission, as confirmed by China’s national health commission. As of January 27th, there have been 2,700 reported cases of the virus and 56 deaths in China, however, experts believe that the actual number of those affected worldwide has likely reached upwards of 100,000. However, many of the individuals may not even be aware they have it, and will likely just develop regular flu symptoms as a result.

When it comes to the expert opinions, doctors and health professionals alike are the most concerned with the spreading of the disease. As previously stated, there’s much more of a focus on individuals who already are in poor health who contract the virus, as they are the most likely to develop more severe symptoms.

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The National Health Service (NHS) recommends going to the doctor if you’ve recently traveled to China, or been in contact with someone who has/who has had a confirmed case of the coronavirus, and you’re experiencing severe cough symptoms for multiple days. However, for the most part the NHS is urging everyone not to panic, and treat all cold or cough symptoms as you normally would. If you find yourself experiencing a severe cough with other ailments such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, or an overall sense of weakness, then visit a doctor as you normally would, and again, don’t panic. In times like this it’s very easy to self-diagnose every little symptom as something 100 times more severe than what it actually likely is. 

The fact that the virus is now in the US and spreading outside of China is worrisome, but expected by experts. Now it really is all a matter of containment and treatment of those infected. What’s likely to happen now is The World Health Organization will declare a “public health emergency of international concern” in regards to the outbreak. The declaration itself sounds scary, but it’s actually a positive thing, as it ensures that a majority of the world’s medical resources and tools will be directed to strictly helping combat this virus. 

Prevention for the coronavirus is the same as any other virus. Make sure you’re washing your hands thoroughly (at least 20 seconds every time) throughout the day, keep hand sanitizer on you at all times, and disinfect the spaces where you spend most of your time (bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, office) and things you touch the most throughout the day (your desk, computer, cell phone).