How Online Dermatology Protects Against Coronavirus
Last week the Mobile World Congress was cancelled in Barcelona due to Coronavirus (covid-19) fears. Many countries have now recorded cases of infections after the virus originated in China. Fortunately, advances in technology allow us to better protect ourselves from viruses that are prone to spreading easily.
What is the Coronavirus (covid-19)?
Firstly, we’ll spare the lengthy details since we’re sure you’re aware of the basics by now. The coronavirus started in China at the start of the year due to contaminated meat in the city of Wuhan. The virus has affected around 80,000 people and appears to be one of the more dangerous virus outbreaks, with comparisons made to viruses such as SARS, which had its major outbreak in 2003.
Coronavirus compared to the influenza virus
Coronavirus, at this point, is a new strain of influenza that is probably here to stay. The difference to the regular influenza is in the numbers. Here’s a comparison what it means if the coronavirus spread as widely as the influenza in the US.
- Influenza: 26M infected -> 250k hospitalized -> 14k dead.
- COVID-19: 26M infected -> 4.94M hospitalized -> 520k dead.
As it stands, the disease spreads from person to person and from contact with infected surfaces or objects. Here are the details on how that happens:
Person to Person:
The Center for disease control and prevention (CDC) states that the virus mainly spreads from person to person.
- Usually between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)
- Via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Alternatively, touching a surface that has been infected with the virus and then touching your own face, mouth, nose or eyes can cause infection. The main way the virus spreads is through person to person contact but infected surfaces are also a risk.
Signs of Coronavirus on the Skin?
There are many viral diseases that can breakout in rashes on the skin, viruses such as Shingles as an example. The Coronavirus however, does not show symptoms or signs through our skin from what we know so far.
How Online Dermatology Helps?
Although the Coronavirus does not cause rashes, how is it that an online dermatologist can help us? When a virus spreads rapidly just as the coronavirus does, there is little we can do to prevent it. It is ultimately the responsibility of our authorities to perform checks and move people into quarantine if they’re suspected of having the virus.
We can, however, make changes to our daily routine to reduce the chances of the virus spreading. A great way to do this is through the use of online services. Our online dermatology service is a prime example. If you have concerns about a skin rash, wart, spot or mole this may or may not be life threatening. Whether it is or isn’t, one of our board-certified dermatologists can give you an answer to your concern instantly and from your own home. This reduces your risk of outside contamination and is particularly important for anyone who may be considered a high risk should they contract the coronavirus (pregnant women, children, elderly).
Our word of advice is not worry too much or panic. There is very little we can do, most of the work is out of our hands and by panicking we can actually cause more harm than good. In times like this it is important to do what we can to prevent the spread of the virus, but it is unlikely that you are at any risk unless living in one of the contaminated areas. Things to do:
A general preventive measure against respiratory infections is to avoid touching the face or eyes and avoiding close contact with sick people.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water, before meals, food handling and after a toilet visit. Hand sanitizers (containing alcohol) can be an option when you are not able to hand wash.
Cough and sneeze in the arm fold or in a paper handkerchief, you will prevent infections from spreading to your surroundings or from polluting your hands.
Stay at home when you are sick and avoid infecting people on the bus, train, planes, your work or where you are close to others.
When do I need to contact healthcare?
Call your doctor if you have a fever, cough or breathing problems and one of the following matches you:
- You have been in China, Iran, South Korea or Italy for the past 14 days – in the Regions of Lombardy, Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna or Veneto.
- For the past 14 days you have been in contact with someone who has covid-19.
Importantly, do your best to reduce the strain on our hospitals and doctors who are vital to reducing the spread of the Coronavirus. Opting for telemedicine or online dermatology services can be a great way to reduce those pressures.
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Specialist doctor from the University Hospital in Gothenburg, alumnus UC Berkeley. My doctoral dissertation is about Digital Health and I have published 5 scientific articles in teledermatology and artificial intelligence.