Since the start of the pandemic, researchers have documented dermatological manifestations of COVID-19. These have included strange rashes, itchy and burning skin, and even COVID toes, which the American Academy of Dermatology Association describes as “swelling or discoloration” on toes, fingers, or both, red or purple in color. Now, a group of researchers in Europe have identified a strange new symptom of the virus, inside of the mouth, which they claim may impact up to one-quarter of symptomatic individuals.
The New Symptom is Called “COVID Tongue”
Researchers at the Hospital Universitario La Paz, in Madrid have dubbed the new symptom “COVID tongue,” revealing that over 25% of the 666 patients suffering mild to moderate infections presented with inflammation, bumps, coating, and ulcers on the tongue. In their study, published in the British Journal of Dermatology, they also found that 40% suffered from burning, hives, skin peeling, and redness on the palms of their hands and the soles of their feet, and nearly half—45.7%—experienced changes to their tongues, feet and hands.
“Almost half of patients with mild‐to‐moderate COVID-19 admitted in a field‐hospital during a two‐week period showed mucocutaneous findings,” the researchers wrote in their letter. “The oral cavity was frequently involved and deserves specific examination under appropriate circumstances to avoid contagion risk.”
There are various forms of “COVID tongue,” according to the researchers. They include transient lingual papillitis, described as inflammation of the small bumps on the surface of the tongue, glossitis, in which the tongue swells and changes color, aphthous stomatitis, brought on by benign and non-contagious mouth ulcers, and also patchy white coating on the tongue.
Earlier in the month Professor Tim Spector, who runs the ZOE Covid Symptom Study app, also shared about the new symptom. “One in five people with Covid still present with less common symptoms that don’t get on the official PHE list – such as skin rashes,” he tweeted, along with a photo. “Seeing increasing numbers of Covid tongues and strange mouth ulcers. If you have a strange symptom or even just headache and fatigue stay at home !”
How to Stay Healthy During This Pandemic
If you experience COVID tongue, or any other coronavirus symptoms, contact a medical professional. And follow the public health fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others.