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This Could Be the First Sign You Have COVID, Study Says

Many people are reporting this as their only coronavirus symptom.

You've heard of the common symptoms of coronavirus: Cough, fever, and shortness of breath. But according to Andrew Chan, a professor of immunology and infectious disease at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, one symptom is a sure sign you've had COVID-19. Read on to learn about what it feels like—and if you should be worried. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.


Raised Skin Bumps a Problem

Women scratch itchy arm with hand.

Chan, co-founder of the COVID Symptom Study app, whose data is being used by researchers around the world, claims that it has been detecting more cases of raised skin bumps and inflammation on fingers and toes—aka COVID fingers and toes—and that it should be considered a key diagnostic sign of the disease. In fact, many people are experiencing these strange dermatological manifestations in the absence of any other symptoms. Researchers noted three types of rashes—click through for each.


Hive-Type Rash

Man with sick hands


Sudden appearance of raised bumps on the skin which come and go quite quickly over hours and are usually very itchy. It can involve any part of the body, and often starts with intense itching of the palms or soles, and can cause swelling of the lips and eyelids. These rashes can present quite early on in the infection, but can also last a long time afterwards.


Prickly Heat or Chicken Pox-Type Rash

woman worrying about her skin

(erythemato-papular or erythemato-vesicular rash)

Areas of small, itchy red bumps that can occur anywhere on the body, but particularly the elbows and knees as well as the back of the hands and feet. The rash can persist for days or weeks.


COVID Fingers and Toes



Reddish and purplish bumps on the fingers or toes, which may be sore but not usually itchy. This type of rash is most specific to COVID-19, is more common in younger people with the disease, and tends to present later on.

RELATED: 7 Tips You Must Follow to Avoid COVID, Say Doctors


Rashes May Be a Specific Sign—Isolate if You Have It

mask looking through window. Important job and self isolation during coronavirus pandemic.

"Even though skin rashes may not be that common in COVID, the fact that they do arise, the fact that they may be a more specific sign, highlight how important it is to really assess their prevalence and how predictive they are," Chan explained in an interview with VOX.

"Many viral infections can affect the skin, so it's not surprising that we are seeing these rashes in COVID-19," study author Dr. Veronique Bataille, consultant dermatologist at St Thomas' Hospital and King's College London, explained in a press release

"However, it is important that people know that in some cases, a rash may be the first or only symptom of the disease. So if you notice a new rash, you should take it seriously by self-isolating and getting tested as soon as possible."


How to Avoid COVID-19

Women hands holding hand sanitizer with alcohol spray and surgical mask.

As for yourself, avoid catching COVID-19: wear your face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah