Mysterious skin rash could be ‘new coronavirus symptom’, warns expert behind Covid tracker app

UNEXPLAINED skin rashes could be a new symptom of coronavirus, a top scientist is warning.

Professor Tim Spector, who is running the COVID Symptom Tracker, said that between one in ten and one in five people reporting symptoms on the app were mentioning new, mysterious rashes.

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And the scientist, from King's College London, is now urging doctors to "be suspicious" of the potential sign of deadly Covid-19.

Professor Spector, of King’s College London, said there was the possibility that a rash might be the only symptom displayed by children who had contracted Covid-19.

He told the Evening Standard: “It’s looking like it is predictive of having a positive [coronavirus] test and GPs are unaware of it, so they are sending people away, or NHS 111 is not recognising it as a possible symptom.

“It’s usually in combination [with other symptoms] but it can come on at different times — sometimes after the other symptoms.

It’s looking like it is predictive of having a positive [coronavirus] test and GPs are unaware of it

"It can come two weeks after the other symptoms, or two weeks before – it’s just being missed because the public is unaware of it and doctors are unaware of it."

Prof Spector pointed out that rashes had been highlighted in early cases of Covid-19 from China and Europe, but there had not been any published studies so far.

In particular, he highlighted that the rash shown in coronavirus patients looks like an allergic rash or a chilblains rash.

And Prof Spector emphasised that it is "unusual" and is often seen in people who don't normally get rashes.

'Unusual' sign

He cautioned people to be "vigilant", adding: "It can just last for a day and disappear…other people get it for a long time.”

Developed by researchers at King's College London and company ZOE, the COVID Symptom Tracker has been helping to predict the scale of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

Anyone – including healthy people, those who think they might have Covid-19 and those who have been diagnosed with the virus – can download the app and fill out some forms which describe their health and ask about possible coronavirus symptoms.

It has been used by almost four million people in the UK.


Prof Spector's symptom tracker app was the first to highlight the loss of taste and smell as Covid-19 symptoms – and these were eventually added to the official NHS list last month.

And he believes his team have also detected the new symptom of skin rashes "several weeks" before Public Health England do anything about it.

A mum-of-one revealed earlier today that she suffered terrifying mystery rashes for months before testing positive for Covid-19.

Sarah Churchill, 36, developed incredibly painful rashes on her hands and feet – instead of the usual symptoms of a fever or persistent cough.

I looked like I had the plague. It’s an incredibly painful condition

Sarah, from Bournemouth, Dorset, said: "I looked like I had the plague.

“It’s an incredibly painful condition, it’s not pleasant at all.

“Not even resting my hands or feet helped, it just got worse over time.”

She added: “I never thought I had Covid-19 at all.

“They haven’t made it an official symptom, so there could be people out there with the coronavirus who have no idea.”

Kawasaki-like condition

Rashes have been a common symptom for children with the Kawasaki disease-like condition, linked to Covid.

There has been a rise of kids needing intensive care for this condition in recent weeks and many of them have developed rashes.

This can be anywhere on the body but in infants this can be more severe in the nappy area.

The rash, however, can vary in appearance from child to child.


What are the symptoms of the mystery kids' Kawasaki disease-like illness linked to Covid?

Health chiefs said in an alert to GPs the signs include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms – like vomiting and diarrhoea

The mysterious condition has been compared to toxic shock syndrome (TSS) and Kawasaki disease.

The signs of TSS are:

  • High temperature
  • Flu-like symptoms, like headache, feeling cold, aches, sore throat and cough
  • Feeling and being sick
  • Diarrhoea
  • Widespread burn-like rash
  • Lips, tongue, and whites of the eyes turning bright red
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Confusion

Signs of Kawasaki disease include:

  • A rash
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Dry, cracked lips
  • Red fingers or toes

Some medics have also reported coronavirus patients having 'covid toes' – where people have developed blisters and purple lesions on their feet.

'Covid toes' can be found on the side or sole of the foot and in some cases has been seen on hands and fingers.

The European Journal of Pediatric Dermatology said there had been a "epidemic" of cases in Italy involving children and young adults.

Doctors believe that Covid toes is an "inflammatory" response to the virus – with some revealing that they have seen the same symptom happen in cases of viral pneumonia or a bad flu.

Inflammatory response

The other theory is that it could be the result of blood vessel clots.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of Patientaccess.com, told The Sun Online: "We know that many infections are linked to a higher risk of clots inside various blood vessels.

"It’s possible these foot signs come about because of clots blocking the blood supply of small blood vessels in the feet.

"It may also be something else entirely – we don’t yet know, but you can be sure that the scientists will be looking to find out."

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The Department of Health said: “Symptoms of Covid-19 remain under constant review by an expert scientific group.”

Doctors advise that if it’s a new rash you have never seen before then you should seek advice from either NHS 111 or by speaking to your GP.

 Dr Jarvis adds: "If your child is poorly and has a rash that doesn’t fade when you press a glass against it, you must call 999."

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