Long Covid: Did your skin change after the infection? Expert shares what to ‘avoid’

Long Covid victim discusses daily impact of virus

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While skin rashes can first crop up as a symptom of an active Covid infection, this sign can stick with you for far longer. In fact, the NHS lists rashes as one of the “common” symptoms of the long-term condition, better known as long Covid.

Dr Qian Xu, Founder and Medical Director of Skin Aesthetics shared the warning signs that could be pointing to Covid rash:

  • Red skin
  • Rashy skin
  • Irritated skin.

The expert explained that even though the rash crops up during the infection or after it, it’s not caused directly by Covid.

Dr Xu said: “The skin rash, or “covid toes” as some people have started to call it is not directly caused by the virus.

“It is one of the results of an over-active immune system, leading to an allergic type rash in some and a vasculitis-like rash in others.”

Fortunately, if you find yourself suffering from this itchy sign, there are products that can help.

However, there’s no need to splash out on expensive products as the doctor advised avoiding them.

She said: “Generally speaking, if the skin is dry, itchy or irritated, you should avoid using fancy serums or face scrubs.

“Stick to a simple moisturiser like E45 will help it to heal without irritation.”

But Dr Xu also stressed the importance of seeing a doctor before you start any treatment.

She continued: “It is vital to get the correct diagnosis for your skin rash before starting any treatment.

“If the rash is driven by something systemic, then just using topical skincare would not be enough to control it, and there is a chance that it could make things worse.

“If you think you may have long Covid and the skin issues have started after Covid, it would be worth you attending a long Covid clinic to get the necessary guidance.”

The expert also shared the type of long Covid you have could play a role.

Dr Xu said: “We now know that there are two types of long Covid, the fatigue predominant type and the MCAS type.

“MCAS stands for mast-cell activation syndrome, and this is essentially a hyper-allergic state where the body can initiate an allergic reaction to anything and everything.

“These patients could have significant skin issues, but will also suffer from many other problems.”

The ZOE COVID Study App divides rashes associated with Covid to two categories: “prickly heat” or chickenpox-type rash and hive-type rash.

The first one, also known as erythemato-papular or erythemato-vesicular rash, tends to be more common and can be spotted by small areas of itchy red bumps.

It can pop up anywhere on the body but it usually starts around the elbows, knees and the back of the hands and feet.

Characterised by being “extremely itchy”, the hive-type rash, or urticaria, describes raised bumps on the skin that appear suddenly. This can also appear anywhere on your body, including your face.

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