According to Psychology Today, French physicians may have discovered new early symptoms of COVID-19: dyshydrosis and urticaria. Though the article is published in French, you can read the dermatologists’ full findings in La Revue du Practicien.
COVID-19: Rapidly Changing Symptoms
If you have read the news at all recently, you’re aware of COVID-19. This novel coronavirus has taken the globe by storm over the past few months. There have been just about 2 million positive diagnoses attributed to the virus, with just under 500,000 recoveries and 126,000 deaths.
At first, symptoms attributed to COVID-19 included severe flu-like symptoms, tightness in the chest, a dry cough, and fever. However, as more patients began to receive positive diagnoses, these symptoms seemed to change. Some patients lost their senses of smell and taste. Others reported digestive issues, like nausea and dizziness. Even more reported general confusion or mental fuzziness.
Now, a group of 400 French dermatologists are offering up potential new symptoms that present on the skin.
The first potential new symptom of COVID-19 is acrosyndrome. This presents as redness and swelling of the extremities, most often the fingers. For patients experiencing acrosyndrome, they may also feel pain in the swollen areas.
Dyshydrosis, which may also be spelled dyshidrosis, causes itchy and dry blisters to appear on the skin. According to the National Eczema Foundation, these most often appear on the feet. Patients visiting the French dermatologists experienced dyshydrosis with no exposure to the cold or allergies.
You’ve probably heard of urticaria before under a different name: hives. These swollen, red patches may appear anywhere on the body where a reaction is taking place. While this is usually due to some allergen, dermatologists believe that urticaria related to COVID-19 could occur due to vasculitis (blood vessel inflammation).
Why are these symptoms appearing?
Because COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus, nobody has any immunity or antibodies to fight it off. So when patients contract coronavirus, the body reacts by attacking this intruder. The immune system goes after the virus using cytokines like IL-6, IL-8, and interferon gamma, proteins that can regulate immune function and inflammation.
But in some patients, too many cytokines are released, creating what some doctors call a “cytokine storm.” We see this most often in the patients that are hospitalized because of COVID-19. Their bodies have such a strong immune response that it is actually harmful. When this occurs, patients experience vasculitis; this leads to the acrosyndrome seen by dermatologists.
Admittedly, more research needs to be done to determine if these symptoms can actually predict COVID-19. Additionally, how many patients with confirmed COVID-19 experience these symptoms?
In the meantime, if you are experiencing acrosyndrome, dyshydrosis, or urticaria, particularly in your fingertips or on your hands, contact your doctor to discuss.