In the past few weeks I have seen an increasing number of news outlets reporting on a new rash-like symptom of COVID-19. Many of these reports detail how these are rare manifestations of the disease but indicate infection nonetheless.

An Associated Press article in the Press Herald on May 17 titled “ ‘COVID toes,’ other rashes latest possible rare virus signs” included a photograph of swollen and red toes, with a similar appearance to inverse psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

It is in my opinion that these reports are dangerous. They make no distinction between psoriasis and COVID-19. For many psoriasis sufferers, their body image is already negatively distorted, and many face public scrutiny and discrimination from a lack of understanding because of the way their reddened or flaking skin appears.

Psoriasis is a genetic hereditary disease and is not caused by the coronavirus. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention needs to offer guidance and information on this fact. As summer is almost here, many of us who go out will be stripping off layers, showing more skin and catching more sun.

Fear about the virus and its asymptomatic carriers can cause panic in those who think they’ve spotted someone with the COVID rash who is not quarantining themselves, in turn causing further discrimination against lifelong sufferers of a terrible, disfiguring disease.

Hugh Sullivan

Portland

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