Stanford doctor explains possible reason for hives after COVID recovery

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) — Hives and rashes are among the symptoms infectious disease specialists are getting calls for after people tested negative for COVID.

They can start on your knees or arms and move around your body.

“We get a lot of calls about hives – especially those welts that look like really big mosquito bites – after people have had COVID or during an infection,” said expert Dr Anne Liu. in infectious diseases from Stanford.

Liu says these hives or rashes should not be interpreted as allergies.

“The immune system is boosted by the virus,” she said.

Dr. Robert Torrano of Allergy & Asthma Associates of Northern California notices similar skin reactions during the recovery phase of infection. He says this happens with COVID, but also with other viruses.

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“These are patients who note during the recovery phase, usually after the immune system has strengthened and is fighting off the infection, that they start to have outbreaks of hives,” Torrano said. He then added, “They come and go. They will appear here. Then they will appear here.”

Torrano recommends seeing a medical professional, but says that in many cases these hives can go away with over-the-counter medication.

“If a patient takes a simple antihistamine like Benadryl or Claritin or Allegra or something like that over the counter, often times the hives will react and subside until the medication wears off,” he said.

According to CDC data, “skin rashes” are on the list of post-COVID infection symptoms.

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Light as a feather: “Why do after people test negative they start getting these rashes?”
Dr. Liu: “Sometimes this happens when people are still actively infected, but often it seems to be after the infection has cleared up. This is probably partly because the immune system is still activated and clearing the virus. And, by doing that, you can misfire in the immune system, leading to rashes like this.”

Torrano says that in many cases these rashes can go away after two hours, but in some cases they can last for several weeks.

“Usually they will go away in a few weeks. Up to six weeks is considered acute urticaria or short-term urticaria. More than six weeks is considered long-term urticaria. I have seen very few patients with chronic urticaria after COVID,” he said.

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