With the rise of new coronavirus variants, the symptoms of COVID-19 have also evolved. At the onset of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed the most common symptoms including fever, chills, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, and new loss of taste and smell. Then, with omicron, the symptom guidelines changed to include cough, congestion and runny noses.

But what about some of the obscure signs and symptoms of COVID-19? According to Medical Daily, there have been reports of some strange side effects, ranging from skin lesions to hearing loss, revealing that COVID-19 can cause a wide range of symptoms.

  1. Skin lesions. COVID-19-related skin rashes were detected in one in five patients who had no other symptoms, according to a 2021 British study. People experienced full-body rashes, while others developed hives, which are raised, itchy areas of skin.  According to WebMD, some individuals develop “COVID toes,” where the skin on toes or fingers swell up and look bright red, then gradually turn purple, with a COVID-19 infection.
  2. COVID nails. During an infection, our bodies undergo changes that reflect the stress we’re undergoing. These changes can even affect our nails. COVID-19 sufferers have reported horizontal lines and indentations on their nails due to the physical stress on their bodies. COVID nails usually appear in the days or weeks following infection as the nails grow, says Medical Daily. While the condition may be initially painful, most nails return to normal within a few weeks.
  3. Hair loss. This possible side effect of COVID-19 most frequently occurs one month or more after infection. One study involving 6,000 people who had COVID-19 found that hair loss was the most common post-COVID symptom, affecting 48% of the participants.
  4. Hearing loss and tinnitus. COVID-19, like other viral infections including the flu and measles, can affect the inner ear, triggering hearing loss or tinnitus, a condition in which your hear constant ringing or other noises in one or both ears. According to Healthy Hearing, a 2021 systematic review that pooled together data on auditory complications found that 7.6% of people infected with the virus reported hearing loss, 14.8% reported tinnitus, and 7.2% developed vertigo, or dizziness.

Experts believe these unusual symptoms may be the result of inflammation, our body’s natural defense system against invading pathogens. Inflammation produces cytokines, proteins that help control the activity of immune cells. Too many cytokines can cause sensory deficits, says Medical Daily, which may explain the hearing loss and tinnitus. The same mechanism can wreak havoc with the function of small capillaries that bring blood to the fingers, toes, and nails as well as the skin and hair. Fortunately, most of these symptoms improve over time.

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