Covid-19 skin rash website criticised for lack of BAME examples

A website dedicated to sharing images of Covid-19 related skin rashes to help doctors and patients identify whether an unusual rash might be a sign of coronavirus infection has been criticised for containing just two images of black or brown skin.

The British Association of Dermatologists’ (BAD) Covid-19 Skin Patterns website features 400 images of Covid-associated rashes, from prickly heat and chickenpox-type rashes, to raised itchy hives, and chilblain-like ‘Covid fingers and toes’. They were gathered by the Covid Symptom Study app in response to growing evidence that skin rashes are a key feature of the disease, present in around 9% of app users testing positive for Covid-19. In children they may be even more predictive, with a sixth of children experiencing a rash and no other symptoms.

Related: Rashes, headaches, tingling: the less common coronavirus symptoms that patients have

“Being able to recognise these is crucial for reducing the spread of [Covid-19],” said president of BAD, Dr Tanya Bleiker.

Yet, the lack of images showing how Covid rashes manifest on people of darker skin tones may mean healthcare professionals are less equipped to diagnose potential cases, says Ore Odubiyi, director of BME Medics, a platform committed to improving diversity and inclusion in healthcare.

“When we consider that certain BAME communities in the UK are disproportionately impacted by Covid-19, it is crucial that visual resources which show how Covid-related skin changes may appear in darker skin tones are made readily available at a similar standard seen in resources exemplifying signs of disease in fairer skin tones.”

Around 3,000 images of suspected Covid rashes were uploaded via the app, but although the survey specifically requested images from BAME groups, only 173 were received: “This may be explained, in part, by cultural factors but also because rashes are less visible on darker