HIV Rash

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus that is responsible to cause AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), a life threatening condition that targets and destroys vital cells in the body.

The patients diagnosed with HIV infection have multiple symptoms. Nevertheless, HIV rashes on the skin are one of the common symptoms found in the victims.

How does HIV Rash occur?

The skin rashes in patients with HIV infection occur due to fall in the number of white blood cell (WBC) count. The HIV rashes can occur at any stage of infection but generally, they are noticed after 2-3 weeks of the contract with virus. Nevertheless, those who skip this phase may develop HIV rashes later in their infectious period.

Where in body HIV Rashes are found

HIV rashes can occur at any part of the body. It is the result of body’s immune system fighting the infection of HIV. It can also happen due to adverse drug reaction (as side effects of medicines used to treat HIV infection) or allergy during the infection period. Most of The HIV rashes may subside on their own, rashes because of drug reaction may require strict medical attention.

In any case, if rashes occur during HIV infection, it is better see HIV physician immediately. This helps in early diagnosis and so better treatment.

HIV Rash Symptoms

Following are the features of HIV rashes seen in patients.

  1. The patient develops brown or red lump like pimples. They appear like eczema and are formed in clusters
  2. HIV infection may cause lesion as a result of peeling of skin
  3. HIV rash could be itchy in some rare cases
  4. Though HIV rashes may occur at any part of body in some rare cases genitals, eyes and mouth (buccal cavity) are affected
  5. Rashes due to HIV infection are not transmissible, and they last up to 2-3 weeks

At times, there are other symptoms observed along with HIV rashes. They are mentioned below:

  • Amnesia (loss of memory)
  • Loose motion
  • FUO (fever of unknown origin)
  • Muscle pain
  • Cramps and body ache
  • Enlargement of glands
  • Blurred or hazy vision
  • Anorexia (loss of appetite) and due to this, weight loss
  • Joint pain

Types of HIV Rashes

There is no classic description of HIV rashes in the medical texts, but broadly, we can divide HIV rashes into four categories explained below:

HIV Rashes due to adverse medicine reaction

Some antiretroviral medicines are known to cause side effects of skin rashes in some cases. These medicines are used to treat HIV infection and its symptoms. Amprenavir, abacavir and nevirapine are few examples of the drugs that can cause HIV skin rashes. Stopping of these drugs may help fade the rashes.

Acute HIV rashes

Acute skin rashes due to HIV infection occur within a few days of infection getting into the body. This type of HIV rash is noticed with other symptoms. Though the rashes may occur at any part of the body, common body sites include thorax, back and palms. Rashes of this type are difficult to diagnose and may require further investigation through various body tests.

Symptomatic HIV Rashes

During the third phase of HIV infection, the patient is likely to develop skin rashes mainly due to dermatitis. Rashes of this type are pinkish or reddish in color, and at times, they itch. According to an estimation, this may last up to one to three years. The common body parts where symptomatic HIV rashes are found include groin, underarms, chest, scalp face and back.

Herpes as the main cause of HIV Rashes

HIV infected person, if suffering from the condition of herpes is more likely to develop rashes. Also, HIV if accompanied by herpes makes the case worst. Both cases are serious STDs, and the mortality rate in such patients is extremely high.

The rashes occurring in this condition are present with other symptoms of herpes. The rashes are reddish and filled with fluid. After some days, they burst and spread. If the condition is not controlled soon, it may result in the death of the patient.

Prevention and Treatment of HIV Rash

The treatment of HIV rash depends upon the causes and responsible factor. If it is due to side effects of the medicines, it is advised to stop, and alternative medicines are prescribed. The patients may consider below mentioned points in order to prevent HIV rash from occurrence.

  1. Over the counter medicine such as Hydrocortisone cream may help alleviate the itching from HIV rashes
  2. Direct sunlight, cold climate or extreme heat –these are triggering factors for HIV rashes. To get rid of HIV rashes, one should avoid all these.
  3. Hot water worsens the case and thus the sufferer should not take a bath with hot water or shower. Instead, cold water bath (or better sponging) is advisable
  4. Unprotected sex, blood transfusion or any fluid of the body should be avoided to come in contact with the other person
  5. Wearing soft cotton clothes is advisable. Tight fitting attire may worsen the case of HIV rash
  6. Try to avoid bathing with chemical based soap. Instead, go for herbal body wash
  7. In order to heal and treat HIV rash other than drug over reaction, let main medicine course (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy – HAART) to improve t-cell count continue. This may help treat the symptoms like HIV rash as well.

HIV Rash Pictures

hiv rash photo

Picture 1 : HIV Rashes Pic

hiv rash picture

Picture 2 : HIV Rashes on hands and elbows

hiv rashes pictures

Picture 3 : HIV Rash on Back



Published by Dr. Raj MD under Skin.
Article was last reviewed on August 6th, 2018.

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