Here's how to spot 'Covid toe' and the other rashes that could indicate coronavirus - as researchers say they should be added to official symptom list

Wednesday, 15th July 2020, 1:28 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th July 2020, 3:02 pm
Doctors have been puzzled by the variety of rashes observed in Covid-19 patients (Photo: Shutterstock)

Academics at King's College London have found that rashes appear as a symptom of coronavirus in a significant number of patients.

The results come from a study which follows on from warnings from Spanish doctors in May that rashes could be a potential symptom of coronavirus - including rashes on toes dubbed "Covid toe".

The researchers drew on data collected from over 300,000 people across the UK who either tested positive for coronavirus or were heavily suspected of having the disease.

The data came from users of a Covid Symptom Tracker app, which collects self-reported symptoms from users. Researchers also drew from an independent survey of 11,546 people on Covid-19-related skin complaints.

How many people get a rash with coronavirus?

Of the 2,021 app users with confirmed cases of coronavirus, 8.8 per cent (178) had skin rashes. This compares with 5.4 per cent of users with a negative result who reported skin complaints.

Of the 17,371 users who reported at least one of the main Covid-19 symptoms (but had not been tested), 8.2 per cent reported a skin rash.

The independent survey showed that, of the 694 respondents who had tested positive for coronavirus, the rash appeared before any other symptoms in 17 per cent of cases.

For 21 per cent of these respondents, a rash was their sole symptom.

'Rashes should be an official symptom'

The researchers wrote, “21% of the SARS-CoV-2 positive surveyees presented with skin symptoms alone and would have been missed if using the NHS classic symptoms alone".

The results have led researchers to suggest that rashes should be included in the official list of Covid-19 symptoms.

They also said, “Although, it is less prevalent than fever, it is more specific of Covid-19 and last longer. An increased awareness from the public and healthcare professionals regarding Covid-19 skin changes will allow more efficient identification of new and earlier clusters of the disease."

Professor Tim Spector, who runs the Covid-19 Symptom Tracker app, had previously warned that skin rashes could be an indicator of the virus.

In addition, a small Spanish study (of 375 patients) conducted in May found that a variety of rashes were appearing on patients with coronavirus - the most common being small, raised and flat red bumps named maculopapules, seen in around 47 per cent of patients.

Currently, rashes are not included on the NHS list of coronavirus symptoms.