Background: One of the challenging aspects of SARS-CoV-2 infection is its diverse multisystemic disease presentation. Objectives: To evaluate the diagnostic value of cutaneous manifestations of SARS-CoV-2 infection and investigate their duration and timing in relation to other COVID-19 symptoms. Methods: We used data from 336 847 UK users of the COVID Symptom Study app to assess the diagnostic value of body rash or an acral rash in SARS-CoV-2 infection, and data from an independent online survey of 11 544 respondents to investigate skin-specific symptoms and collect their photographs. Results: Using data from the app, we show significant association between skin rashes and a positive swab test result (odds ratio 1·67, 95% confidence interval 1·42–1·97). Strikingly, among the respondents of the independent online survey, we found that 17% of SARS-CoV-2-positive cases reported skin rashes as the first presentation, and 21% as the only clinical sign of COVID-19. Together with the British Association of Dermatologists, we have compiled a catalogue of images of the most common skin manifestations of COVID-19 from 400 individuals (https://covidskinsigns.com), which we have made publicly available to assist clinicians in recognition of this early clinical feature of COVID-19. Conclusions: Skin rashes cluster with other COVID-19 symptoms, are predictive of a positive swab test, and occur in a significant number of cases, either alone or before other classical symptoms. Recognizing rashes is important in identifying new and earlier cases of COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)880-887
Number of pages8
JournalThe British journal of dermatology
Issue number5
Early online date14 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


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