COVID-19 and Dermatologic Manifestations: What We Know So Far

April 23, 2021
Jonathan Alicea

Esther Freeman, MD, PhD, talks about the various levels of dermatologic severity associated with COVID-19.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Virtual Meeting Experience 2021 will be an opportunity for dermatologists of all subspecialties to take stock of the biggest advancements and trends from this past year. The virtual conference will also highlight the most significant events affecting dermatologic practice.

Of course, then, the impacts of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic cannot be ignored, and this recognition is reflected in the conference’s agenda.

One such session is titled “COVID-19 Symposium,” which will feature experts of differing clinical interests highlighting the various perspectives and angles of the pandemic—from impacts on minority populations to use of treatment regimens. This event will be led by Esther Freeman, MD, PhD, Director of Global Health Dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

In an interview with HCPLive®, Freeman discussed what dermatologists have learned in terms of COVID-19’s relationship with dermatology. She also gave an overview of the virus’s dermatologic manifestations, noting specific presentations of differing levels of severity.

“I really am hard-pressed to come up with another dermatologic disease that has so many different skin findings,” she said.

“If you think about herpes—[it] generally looks like herpes on the skin,” she continued. “If you think about Kawasaki virus, there are a couple different ways that can look, but it’s not an infinite number of possibilities. And I think what’s so interesting about COVID-19 is that we actually see really what we’re now calling a broad spectrum of different COVID-19 skin manifestations.”

In many ways, symptoms associated with novel virus cannot be characterized so singularly and cleanly. As Freedman noted, its numerous presentations extend beyond pulmonology and cardiology—the hetergenoity of the disease's effects on individuals is similarly seen in dermatology.