Long haul COVID-19 survivors experience lasting skin problems

skin problems
© Pop Nukoonrat

According to a new analysis, COVID-19 patients have shown lasting skin problems long after their initial infection has cleared

For the analysis, the team evaluated almost 1,000 cases of patients with skin manifestations of COVID-19 in collaboration with the International League of Dermatological Societies and the American Academy of Dermatology.

The findings were presented at the 29th Congress of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

Test results

The median duration of skin symptoms, among 224 total suspected cases and 90 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 from 39 countries, was 12 days.

Rash-like morbilliform and urticarial eruptions lasted a median of 4-7 days and a maximum duration of 28 days for patients with lab-confirmed COVID-19. Papulosquamous eruptions (scaly papules and plaques) lasted a median of 20 days in lab-confirmed cases, with one confirmed long hauler eruption lasting 70 days.

Pernio/chilblains, or redness and swelling of the feet and hands, commonly known as “COVID toes,” lasted a median of 15 days in patients with suspected COVID-19 and 10 days in lab-confirmed cases.

Notably, six patients with pernio/chilblains were long haulers with toe symptoms lasting at least 60 days, with two lab-confirmed patients with COVID toes lasting longer than 130 days.

Senior author Esther E. Freeman, MD, PhD, director of Global Health Dermatology at MGH, said: “Our findings reveal a previously unreported subset of patients with long-standing skin symptoms from COVID-19, in particular those with COVID toes. This data adds to our knowledge about the long-term effects of COVID-19 in different organ systems. The skin is potentially a visible window into inflammation that could be going on in the body.

“We encourage clinicians taking care of patients with COVID-19 to ask about and evaluate any skin symptoms. Health care providers can enter information into our registry to further our understanding of the dermatologic effects of COVID-19.”

The team defined long haulers as anyone with skin symptoms of COVID-19 that persisted for at least 60 days.


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