COVID tongue and other coronavirus symptoms on the skin

The coronavirus also speaks through the skin. This is indicated by recent scientific studies published by the British Journal of Dermatology. One of them was led by the Spanish dermatologist Almudena Nuño. 45.6 of the COVID-19 patients analyzed presented mucocutaneous symptoms, among others, the so-called "COVID language". "It is a very characteristic, enlarged tongue, although this can sometimes be due to treatments the patient receives. But the depapillated tongue, without papillae on the back of the tongue, is typical of COVID-19. Also glossitis, an inflammation in which in addition the lateral marks of the teeth can be appreciated "Nuño tells Deutsche Welle. In addition, there are patients with a burning sensation on the tongue and the well-known alteration and even loss of the sense of taste.

The study coordinated by Dr. Nuño was carried out with 666 participants admitted to the makeshift field hospital that Madrid installed at the end of March 2020 to care for patients with mild and intermediate COVID-19 symptoms. The mean age of the patients studied was 55.7 years and practically half of them (47.1 percent) came from Latin America, which suggests that this population group suffered a higher infection rate in the Spanish capital.

Emergency in your own country

Actually, Dr. Nuño planned at that time to embark for Papua-New Guinea within the framework of a project by the researcher Oriol Mitjá to find a treatment for yaws, a tropical disease with effects similar to those of leprosy and which usually affects the low-income population. But that was canceled and Spain was about to enter state of emergency.

In the midst of the first wave of the pandemic, non-urgent surgeries at the La Paz hospital in Madrid where she works were not performed and Dr. Nuño attended consultations with her patients remotely. With less work than usual, he introduced himself as volunteer to support her colleagues in the field hospital. "I had already volunteered to Africa several times and I thought that it couldn't be harder, but then it was because of the stress, because of seeing the suffering of the people, who felt lonely and anguished before a new disease. We learned every moment ", he tells DW.

Data collection and analysis

The author of a doctoral thesis on the skin manifestations of HIV, her scientific curiosity led her to pay attention to the dermatological symptoms of COVID-19 patients. After the hard days of work and with the help of other doctors and health personnel, he began to collect and analyze patient data.

"In addition to the alterations in the oral mucosa In more than 11 percent of patients, we found up to 25 percent with involvement of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, with a characteristic burning. 15 percent also had spots on them, which we analyzed and verified that they were due to inflammation caused by the virus "explains Nuño. And not only that, 10 percent suffered from rashes or hives on the body.

Persistent COVID on the skin

Another scientific study, published in January 2021 also by The British Journal of Dermatology, corroborates with an analysis of outpatients the results of the work of the Spanish dermatologist and even presents a skin symptoms catalog that can predict a coronavirus infection before getting the test results.

According to Nuño, conditions such as enlargement or alteration of the tongue usually appear at the beginning of a new coronavirus infection, although there may also be cases in which it occurs later. For the doctor, the challenge now is to identify the skin symptoms of the so-called "Persistent COVID". "There are people who, months after overcoming the infection, continue to suffer from burning of the tongue or the soles of the hands and feet, hair loss, itchy skin, discomfort in the mouth … All this will have to be studied well determine if it is due to the virus or other diseases that are aggravated by the virus "he points out.