7 strange symptoms of COVID-19, including rashes, COVID toes and hair loss

Published November 16, 2021

Published

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Predicting how your body will react to COVID-19 is unpredictable. 

You can have one or you can have many different symptoms. These symptoms occur from either direct damage to your cells or your body's natural response to fighting off the infection. Each person can respond in totally different ways. Many of these symptoms are normal and similar to what we see with other types of infections, while others the medical community is still learning about. 

Some of the most common COVID-19 symptoms include fever, chills, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, sore throat, aches and diarrhea. Losing your sense of taste or smell can also happen.

While almost anything is possible, some less common symptoms of acute COVID-19 are included in the following list below. In addition, up to 20% to 30% of people will have prolonged symptoms that can be mild to severe that can last months. This is referred to as post-COVID syndrome or "long haul" COVID-19 symptoms.

Less common symptoms can include:

  1. Skin rashes that can include small bumps, discolored areas or blisters. Viruses can affect any part of the body where blood flows, so it's not surprising that it would affect the skin, which has the most blood vessels
  2. COVID toes. This is a type of skin condition that is associated with swelling, blister-like bumps or discoloration on the toes or fingers. This reaction appears to be more common in children or young adults and can last up to 14 days or for months
  3. Brain fog. This can be a common post-acute COVID symptom that may be due to the body's immune response or inflammation throughout the nervous system and blood vessels that lead to the brain. Some people also present acutely with this symptom
  4. Hoarseness, speaking problems or swallowing issues can occur when the nerves of the vocal cords are irritated
  5. Pink eye, light sensitivity, sore eyes and itchy eyes
  6. Delirium or severe confusion is a more common symptom among older people when their bodies are trying to fight off an infection. COVID patients in the ICU often experience severe delirium 
  7. Hair loss. This typically occurs months after the infection. This can also be seen with other types of infections when fevers are present. Hair loss likely occurs because the hair follicles are overstimulated during the infection and then many of the follicles change into a resting/shedding phase at the same time. Generally, this starts improving three to six months later 

With flu season just beginning, it may be difficult to know what you have if you are feeling ill. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, you should get tested to confirm. That's the only way to know.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends seeking emergency care if you experience: 

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face 

If you're not sure if you have the flu or COVID-19, contact your primary care provider. If you don't have a primary care provider, view a list of doctors in your area.