Unusual Symptoms of COVID Include Skin Lesions, Swollen Eyes and Confusion

COVID-19—the disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus—can produce a dizzying array of symptoms, affecting people in vastly different ways.

Scientists initially thought COVID-19 was primarily a respiratory disease, but research is increasingly demonstrating that it is actually a complex, multi-system disorder.

Many people experience no symptoms at all after infection. The most common symptoms include fever, fatigue, a dry cough, body aches, shortness of breath, headache, sore throat and a runny nose. But what are the more unusual symptoms can the disease cause?

Gastrointestinal problems: COVID-19 patients can sometimes suffer symptoms such as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology even found that diarrhea may be the first or only symptom that patients experience.

Skin problems: COVID-19 has been linked to a variety of skin changes, including itchy or tender lesions in the hands and feet, and a measles-like rash, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Loss of smell and taste: A commonly reported experience among COVID-19 patients is a loss of smell or taste. Some patients have also reported that their senses have become distorted in unusual ways, often making certain foods or odors taste and smell unpleasant. This disorder is known as parosmia and it can seemingly affect people even after they have recovered from other coronavirus symptoms.

Eye problems: COVID-19 can affect the region around the eyes in a number of ways. For example, the disease has been associated with swollen eyelids and increased discharge from the eyes. An increased sensitivity to light has also been reported in patients.

Confusion and other neurological symptoms: The disease also appears to cause a wide range of neurological effects, including dizziness and confusion—the latter particularly prevalent in older people with severe infections.

Hallucinations and psychotic symptoms: A small number of COVID-19 patients have developed severe psychotic symptoms after contracting the disease, even though they often have no history of mental illness, The New York Times reported. It is not yet clear exactly what could be causing such symptoms to appear.

Pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome: Children appear to experience milder COVID-19 symptoms than adults. But in rare cases, some children who tested positive for COVID-19 have experienced a severe condition that has been dubbed pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which leads to symptoms such as fever, rash and gastrointestinal problems.

COVID-19 ICU patient
Medical staff work to change bed sheets for a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center on December 29, 2020 in Houston, Texas. Go Nakamura/Getty Images