5 Uncommon COVID Signs — and What to Do About Them

By this level within the lengthy slog of the pandemic, many individuals know the telltale signs of a COVID-19 an infection: a ragged ache in your throat, a pernicious cough, congestion, fever and full-body exhaustion. However a tiny subset of individuals additionally develop much less frequent signs, ones that may sound like hexes from a kids’s story: furry tongues, purple toes, welts that sprout on their faces.

“Each infectious illness has frequent and unusual manifestations,” mentioned Dr. Mark Mulligan, an infectious illness specialist at NYU Langone Well being. And as we study extra concerning the coronavirus, he mentioned, we might higher perceive the underlying causes behind these rare signs — however till then, it’s largely guesswork.

Confounding signs have been a element of COVID because the begin of the pandemic; the lack of style and odor has grow to be a disturbing signal of the illness. COVID additionally has the potential to disrupt menstrual cycles, a aspect impact some ladies additionally reported after vaccination.

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A examine of greater than 60,000 individuals who examined optimistic for COVID and reported their signs discovered {that a} small share skilled ringing of their ears, sore eyes, rashes, purple welts on their faces or lips, hair loss and weird joint pains. A bigger evaluation of greater than 600,000 folks in Britain confirmed {that a} fraction of these with COVID additionally developed purple sores and blisters on their ft and numbness throughout their our bodies, amongst different maladies.

Docs aren’t positive why just some folks develop these uncommon signs. Genetics would possibly play a task, Mulligan mentioned; vaccination standing might even have one thing to do with it, as an unvaccinated particular person might need a extra extreme an infection, which might generate a unique course of signs. Scientists have additionally discovered that the coronavirus can enter the bloodstream in a minority of individuals, he mentioned, which signifies that it’s potential that the virus might enter varied organs throughout the physique and trigger signs past the respiratory system.

Antiviral remedies like Paxlovid might doubtlessly alleviate signs like a COVID-related rash, maybe as a result of they’ll scale back the quantity of virus in your blood, mentioned Dr. Kelly Gebo, an infectious illness specialist at Johns Hopkins Medication. But it surely’s unclear whether or not these signs are straight brought on by the virus or by the physique’s response to it.

Irritation is also a wrongdoer, mentioned Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious illness specialist on the College of California, San Francisco. If the virus will get into the bloodstream and impacts a number of components of the physique, immune cells flock to these areas, Chin-Hong mentioned. Which means an ear, for instance, which the virus would usually not have an effect on, might grow to be infected, not perform as properly and doubtlessly ache.

COVID additionally leaves sufferers in a weakened state, he mentioned, which suggests pathogens lingering round their our bodies from earlier infections — like herpes or the virus that causes shingles — can reactivate, inflicting rashes or chilly sores within the wake of COVID.

A 3rd idea is that the stress that may include a COVID an infection — the anxiousness of quarantine, the lack of revenue, the worry of long-term well being implications — also can set off signs like hair loss and hives, Chin-Hong mentioned.

Every of those signs, when related to COVID, usually resolves in a matter of weeks, usually with out remedy, he added. And there aren’t set guidelines for the way medical doctors deal with them, mentioned Gebo. “We now have definitive pointers on find out how to deal with shortness of breath,” she mentioned, “however we don’t have definitive pointers on these.”

Right here’s what else we all know concerning the causes of — and potential remedies for — a few of these signs.

Bushy Tongue

Wholesome tongue cells quickly substitute themselves, Chin-Hong mentioned, but when older cells linger and construct on high of each other, it kinds a darkish, thick, fuzzy overgrowth, usually known as furry tongue. Even earlier than COVID, medical doctors noticed sufferers with furry tongue associated to viral infections, smoking, antibiotic use and poor hygiene, he mentioned, including, “It’s extra frequent than folks assume.”

“I do know it appears to be like actually scary to folks,” he mentioned, however the affliction is usually non permanent. Some folks might also really feel a burning sensation inside their mouths. These with this symptom shouldn’t be “freaked out,” Chin-Hong mentioned. Folks with furry tongue can use a tongue scraper or toothbrush to scratch away these tongue cells, and so they can be sure that to apply good oral hygiene to stop extra buildup.

In uncommon instances, folks with COVID might also develop thrush, in any other case generally known as oral candidiasis, which happens when a fungus infects your mouth. It has been linked to a suppressed immune system or the usage of antibiotics, Chin-Hong mentioned. Docs usually diagnose thrush by analyzing the white lesions that may sprout in your cheek, tongue or mouth; the remedy is normally 10 to 14 days of an antifungal medicine.

Tingling Nerves

When folks develop the feeling of pins and needles on their pores and skin, it might be as a result of their nerves are infected by immune cells as they combat off an infection, Chin-Hong mentioned. It’s additionally potential that the virus itself might injury peripheral nerves, like those who go to your palms and ft, Gebo mentioned; this additionally happens with the shingles an infection.

“What we don’t know is what’s a direct affect of the virus itself or what’s irritation,” she mentioned. “These are issues we’re making an attempt to determine.”

Researchers at Washington College in St. Louis discovered that individuals who examined optimistic for COVID have been roughly thrice as prone to report ache, tingling and numbness of their palms and ft than these with destructive exams.

For many individuals, that tingling sensation goes away in a matter of days, Gebo mentioned. If sufferers are in ache, she added, they need to seek the advice of their medical doctors, who might suggest taking Tylenol or Motrin.

Folks with persistent nerve ache, even after they get well from the virus, ought to seek the advice of their medical doctors, mentioned Dr. Marc Sala, co-director of the Northwestern Medication Complete COVID-19 Middle.


It’s well-established that viruses can induce rashes, Sala mentioned, and he famous that he has seen all kinds of pores and skin afflictions in sufferers with COVID. The American Academy of Dermatology Affiliation cites itchy bumps, chickenpoxlike blisters, rashes that type lacy patterns on the pores and skin and raised bumps as potential pores and skin circumstances linked to COVID. In the event you develop a rash that lingers after you get well from COVID, Sala recommends consulting a dermatologist.

Hair Loss

Any kind of bodily or emotional misery may cause your hair to fall out, mentioned Dr. Shilpi Khetarpal, a dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic. It’s not completely clear whether or not an an infection with COVID itself or the stress associated to it leads some folks to expertise hair loss, she mentioned. If you end up amongst those that lose some hair throughout or after a COVID an infection, don’t panic, she mentioned, including, “It’s not scarring; it comes again. It simply wants time.”


Scientists are nonetheless conflicted about what causes “COVID toe,” the frostbitelike rash and blisters that type on some folks’s ft and fingers after they grow to be contaminated, inflicting toes and the information of fingers to grow to be swollen and purple. One idea is that individuals with COVID might expertise microvascular clots, which happen within the smallest blood vessels in your physique and block the blood provide, inflicting that discoloration, Sala mentioned.

Sufferers who develop COVID toe normally accomplish that through the acute part of an an infection, he added, and the signs are inclined to resolve quickly after. The American Academy of Dermatology Affiliation recommends utilizing a hydrocortisone cream to deal with it. Like most uncommon COVID signs, as unnerving because it is likely to be, the swelling usually resolves by itself — for causes medical doctors aren’t solely positive of.

“We’re nonetheless studying about COVID,” Mulligan mentioned. “We don’t perceive the whole lot.”

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