J Dermatol. 2023 Oct 13. doi: 10.1111/1346-8138.16984. Online ahead of print.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, there have been numerous reports concerning COVID-19 skin manifestations. Debate has ensued as to whether these lesions are unique or represent a form of viral reactivation. The aim of this research was to compare the incidence of herpetic skin lesions between a COVID-19 group, a Sars-CoV-2 mRNA vaccination group, and their respective controls, taking into account their Herpesviridae carrier status. To achieve this goal, the Maccabi Healthcare Services’ database was scanned and cohorts of both verified COVID-19 and mRNA vaccinated patients were extracted and matched to random control groups. Patients with a documented occurrence of any Herpesviridae infection that occurred prior to the studied ‘event’ (i.e., COVID-19 or mRNA vaccination) were regarded as carriers of Herpesviridae. A COVID-19-related or vaccination-related lesion was defined as a clinically diagnosed herpetic lesion appearing 1 month after the index date. In the COVID-19 cohort, there was an insignificant difference in herpetic lesion incidence between the groups. However, logistic regression demonstrated that the interaction of COVID-19 with the Herpesviridae carrier status was statistically significant. For the vaccination cohort, the data showed statistically significant differences between groups in herpetic frequencies, which manifested as an almost 2-fold odds of developing a herpetic lesion. In conclusion, following the analysis of two large cohorts, there is evidence to support the contribution of both COVID-19 and the mRNA vaccine to the reactivation of Herpesviridae. Our results diminish the idea that COVID-19 has unique, herpetic-like lesions.