Some coronavirus patients experience ‘burning sensation,’ swollen tongue, doctors say

Of 666 coronavirus patients in Madrid, nearly half showed issues with the skin and mucous membrane

Peeling skin, swelling in the tongue and a burning sensation could be among telling signs of coronavirus infection, researchers suggest.

A team of researchers from Madrid reported on their findings this week, per FOX8, with a study published in British Journal of Dermatology in September.

When Madrid was battling a pandemic peak last April, doctors set up a temporary field hospital to examine coronavirus patients with mild-to-moderate pneumonia, according to the study. Their report includes 666 patients, of which 46% showed at least one mucocutaneous manifestation, or a skin and mucous membrane related condition.

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Among the most common were peeling skin (25%), reddish-brown blemishes on the hands and feet (15%) and painful, swollen bumps on the tongue (12%), among other less common conditions like a burning sensation in the mouth (5%) and hand-foot syndrome (7%) involving swelling.

"Some patients recalled a burning sensation and redness or swelling of the hands or feet shortly after COVID‐19 symptoms began," researchers wrote.

The team found 121 cases involving the patients’ hands and feet, and 78 cases affecting the mouth, or about 40% and 26%, respectively.

The team also documented instances of hives and rash "in a minority of patients."

All of the patients were adults with COVID-19 pneumonia, so the team cautioned against applying the findings among children and asymptomatic individuals. Findings were also gathered over a two-week period, so the team may have missed skin conditions occurring at other times among the patients.

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"In summary, almost half of patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 admitted in a field-hospital during a 2-week period showed mucocutaneous findings," researchers wrote. "The oral cavity was frequently involved and deserves specific examination under appropriate circumstances to avoid contagion risk. Redness and swelling of the hands and feet, fine palmoplantar desquamation and reddish-to-brown macules can help us to diagnose COVID-19 infection and should be routinely checked."

Meanwhile, the most common COVID-19 symptoms listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include the following: 

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

However, the agency notes that this list doesn’t include all symptoms because research is ongoing into the novel virus.