The Strange New COVID Symptom That's Easy to Miss, Doctor Warns

It often appears alongside another odd sign of coronavirus infection, expert says.

It's far from unlikely that you could be showing signs of coronavirus without even knowing it. After all, COVID-19 can produce a myriad of symptoms and new ones are still being discovered all the time. In fact, one expert is now warning that there may be yet another a strange new COVID symptom that is quite easy to miss: itching.

Leanne Atkin, PhD, RGN, a vascular nurse consultant and senior lecturer at the University of Huddersfield, recently said in a statement issued by the university that there is an alarming rise in COVID-19 patients experiencing symptoms of itching. Interestingly, according to Atkin, this subtle sign often presents itself alongside another relatively strange coronavirus symptom: COVID toes—an inflammatory side effect that typically appears as a rash on the feet, first reported in an April study out of Spain published in the International Journal of Dermatology.

business man scratch the itch by hand with athlete foot problem

Patients with COVID toes may experience burning, itching, and tenderness, Atkin says, noting that it's a "relatively new symptom" and needs to be properly assessed. "It is really important that people start to recognize these early symptoms and if they notice any of them, they should be arranging for the patient to be tested for COVID-19 and considering carefully the need for referral onto vascular clinics," she says.

The the onset of itching sensations, particularly on the feet, could point to COVID toes and may be a sign that you are infected—even "in the absence of any other symptoms," Atkin says. A study conducted by researchers from King's College London and health science company ZOE found that 17 percent of respondents reported a rash—often itch-inducing— as their first symptom of the coronavirus. And one in five of those who reported a rash confirmed it was the only symptom they experienced.

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Atkin says the lack of research and knowledge on itching and COVID toes as symptoms of the virus is extremely troublesome because patients are going to normal vascular clinics that aren't prepared for dealing with coronavirus which could allow it to spread into health care facilities.

"Yes, we are wearing basic PPE but this is why it is imperative for practitioners to be aware of this relatively new symptom of the virus, because, if this is actually a sign of COVID, we should be stepping up our protection for the staff and for our other patients," Atkin says. And for more signs of COVID, check out The New Coronavirus Symptom That's Appearing Weeks After You Get Sick.

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