Skin rashes could be added to NHS official list of symptoms

Scientists have called for skin rashes to be added to the official NHS symptom list for coronavirus.

A new study suggests skin rashes may in fact be a tell-tale sign that someone has contracted Covid-19.

Academics at King’s College London looked at data taken from 20,000 Brits who had tested positive for Covid-19, or were strongly suspected of having the virus.

They found 9% of coronavirus sufferers had experienced skin rashes, while 8% of people with other symptoms also had the skin ailment.

Scientists are now calling for skin rashes to officially be recognised by the NHS as a symptom of the virus, to prevent larger numbers of cases going under the radar.

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The NHS currently only lists three signs of the infection — a fever, continuous cough and loss of smell or taste.

If anyone experiences any of these, they are advised to self-isolate and get tested, so as to not pass the virus on.

But this advice may mean that those suffering with less common symptoms might delay accessing tests, resulting in unintentionally spreading the virus to other people.

For the study, King’s College London researchers used data from 336,837 users of their Covid Symptom Study app, where people have been reporting their symptoms.

From the 27,157 app users who provided swab results, 2,021 (7.4%) tested positive for coronavirus. Of this group, 178 respondents (8.8%) reported skin rashes.

The study also looked at 17,371 people who were suspected of having coronavirus but had not been tested, and found that 8.2% of people reported a skin rash.

Dr Mario Falchi, who led the research, said Covid-19 patients reported suffering from the rashes for weeks — much longer than the more common symptoms.

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Many viral infections can also cause the skin to break out in rashes or blotches, such as measles and shingles.

Writing in the study, which has not yet been published in a journal or peer-reviewed by other scientists, Dr Falchi stated that a Covid-19-related rash could present in different forms and at different stages of the disease – but being aware of skin changes can be useful for identifying coronavirus earlier.

Dr Falchi writes: ‘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.’

In May, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the US revised its Covid-19 symptom list by adding three new symptoms, bringing the total number to 11.

Skin rashes are already included in its symptom list and a footnote on the site says the CDC ‘will continue to update this list as we learn more about Covid-19’.

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