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'What Is Enanthem?'

mouth doctor patient
By Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RNJuly 29, 2020

These days I think almost all of us are reading more health news than we used to – which means we’re coming across all kinds of odd-sounding terms we’ve never heard before. ‘Enanthem’ is one you may have encountered lately. Though it sounds like it could be the name of a cute character in an animated movie, enanthem is actually a specific kind of rash, caused by a virus.

Some virus-related rashes are on our skin, where we can see them. Think about chickenpox, for example, which is caused by the varicella zoster virus. Chickenpox causes a rash all over the body. The medical term for that rash is ‘exanthem.’ ‘Ex’ means ‘outside.’

But viruses also can cause rashes inside the body – specifically on the mucus membranes, such as inside the mouth. These rashes are called enanthem. ‘En’ means ‘in,’ as in ‘inside the body.’

It was recently reported that some people with COVID-19 had enanthem. COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, so it’s certainly possible the bug could cause a rash of some sort.

Among the patients studied, the virus seemed to cause a red, bumpy rash inside their mouths. Doctors have only identified a handful of cases of enanthem in COVID-19 patients so far, and we don’t have enough research yet to confirm whether there is a true link between this symptom and this disease. So, there’s certainly no need for you to perform daily mouth checks to try to tell if you might be infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Like so many other aspects of COVID-19, researchers do not yet have a full picture of how this virus behaves. Until we know more, you should take precautions to avoid exposure to the virus. Wear a mask whenever you go out in public. Stay at least six feet away from others. Wash your hands (or use hand sanitizer) frequently.

If you limit your exposure to SARS-CoV-2, then you also reduce your risk of developing enanthem.

 

 

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