Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) is an ongoing global pandemic caused by the "severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2" (SARS-CoV-2), which was isolated for the first time in Wuhan (China) in December 2019. Common symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, dyspnea and hypogeusia/hyposmia. Among extrapulmonary signs associated with COVID-19, dermatological manifestations have been increasingly reported in the last few months.
Skin problems that have been seen in people with COVID
- “COVID Digits” are tender swellings on the fingers and toes which may be purple in those with lighter skin or a slightly darker appearance/brown/black in those with darker skin. They look like chilblains and are more common in younger people. They usually appear sometime after the onset of the infection and may last up for more than 12 weeks. The areas heal slowly after COVID has gone away, with peeling of the skin. Painkillers such as paracetamol may be helpful.
- Sores or ulcers in the lips and mouth can occur in COVID. This usually settles within 2 weeks. This may be helped by antiseptic mouthwashes.
- A very itchy widespread rash with tiny lumps and blisters like prickly heat can occur in COVID, either during the infection or weeks afterwards. This can last for weeks after the infection settles.
- COVID can trigger a very itchy widespread rash called urticaria. This is sometimes called hives and appears suddenly as smooth raised areas (‘wheals’) on the skin which can come and go quite quickly over hours. This can come up early in the COVID infection but can last for months afterwards.
- A rash on the trunk (body) called pityriasis rosea, which can be triggered by other viruses, has been seen in COVID. This starts with a single, large red patch, followed a few days later by many smaller red/darker patches on the trunk, which are not usually too itchy. In darker skin, the patches can be darker, brown or black.
Special measures to take when washing hands
To help stop the spread of COVID, it is important to follow guidance and wash your hands frequently and follow the social-distancing rules.
People with skin conditions may find handwashing difficult as this may make dry skin worse. However, it is important to follow the government’s COVID guidance on this:
- Wash hands using soap and water. This is not ideal for people with dry and cracked skin but follow the advice as much as you can.
- Dry your hands after washing by patting, not rubbing.
- Moisturisers are helpful to treat hand dermatitis. They should be applied after handwashing and applied often throughout the day and when the skin feels dry.
- Overnight moisturising helps some people. Apply plenty of moisturiser just before bedtime, then put on clean cotton gloves overnight.
- When you are not washing your hands, but the hands come into contact with water or detergents, (e.g. when washing up dishes, shampooing hair, cleaning surfaces with wipes), wear gloves (e.g. nitrile gloves from a chemist or online) to protect your skin.
How to keep your hands clean and moisturized with ozonated oils
Ozonated olive oil has long been hailed as a pantry cure-all for dry skin woes, thanks to its intense moisturizing ability. This non-fragrant Mediterranean food staple is chock-full of fatty acids that dry skin craves, including palmitic, linoleic and oleic acids. Ozonated olive oil is also a staple in most oil cleansers for its hydrating properties and antioxidant benefits.
Coconut ozonated oil is a favorite in the natural beauty world for its ability to intensely moisturize the skin and retain that moisture. It’s best for naturally dry skin and can heal extra-dry skin as it hydrates. In addition to boosting moisture levels, coconut ozonated oil also soothes skin that has felt dryness take a toll on its anti-inflammatory properties.
Grapeseed ozonated oil packs a strong moisturizing punch in a lightweight formulation with vitamin C, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits. It can be used on all skin types, this is excellent for skin that is uniformly dry or a combination complexion with dry areas. You also get anti-aging benefits with the extra hydration: Grapeseed oil has a stellar reputation for diminishing lines in areas of thinner, vulnerable skin on the neck and around the eyes.