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What is HIV rash ?

Infection with the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV results in the formation of pigmented rashes over several areas of the body. Such rashes are known as HIV rashes and they usually develop a couple of weeks after infection.

HIV rash symptoms

  • HIV rash may occur as brown or red lumps or pimples that form in clusters and are similar in appearance to eczema
  • HIV infection can sometimes result in peeling of skin, which may cause lesions.
  • It may also occur as abnormal patches, lesions, blisters or sores in the mouth, genitals, eyes and other mucous tissues of the body
  • On rare occasions, HIV rash may be itchy
  • HIV rash is not contagious and usually lasts for 2 to 3 weeks

There are a number of other symptoms that may accompany HIV rash. Some of them include:

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  • Unexplained fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramps and muscle aches
  • Painful and stiff joints
  • Loss of memory
  • Swollen glands
  • Vision problems
  • Loss of appetite leading to loss in weight

Types of HIV rash

  • HIV acute infection rash develops after three weeks of HIV infection and affects the upper body, palms and limbs. It does not cause much harm and fades off in 3 weeks
  • HIV drug rash occurs as a reaction to HIV medicines, leading to peeling of skin and formation of hives or tiny lumps
  • Symptomatic type of HIV rash occurs during the last stages of AIDS and affects the chest, face, scalp and armpits. Such HIV rashes may be scaly, dry and pinkish.
  • HIV herpes rash occurs in the oral cavity and the genital area and causes the formation of fluid-filled, reddish and swollen blisters or lesions.
  • HIV rash caused due to bacterial infection can lead to the formation of psoriasis, scabies, eosinophilic follictus, bacterial follictus or hives.
  • HIV rash caused due to viral infections result in the development of pimple-like, reddened rashes known as HPV warts as well as molluscum contagiosum.
  • HIV rash caused due to fungal infection can cause tinea versicolor

Treatment of HIV rash

In case HIV rash is caused due to the intake of HIV medications, then the affected individual must approach his/her health care provider and stop the consumption of drugs. Once HIV rashes have healed, the patient should not restart the intake of drugs without consulting a physician.

There are a number of precautionary and preventive steps that an individual affected by HIV rash should take to reduce the symptoms of the condition. They include:

  • One should stay away from or avoid extreme cold climates
  • One should also not subject themselves to direct sunlight or extreme heat
  • One should avoid unprotected sex with individuals who fall in high risk groups, to prevent the passing on of contagious HIV rashes. Also, any kind of blood to blood contact should be avoided
  • Hydrocortisone cream and Benadryl, which are available over the counter, can be used to alleviate the itching from HIV rash
  • Hot showers or baths should be completely avoided. Instead, one should resort to taking cool baths and showers on a daily basis.
  • Do not consume foods that tend to trigger the formation of HIV rash
  • Tight clothing and impermeable fabrics may magnify the itching, and hence one should avoid wearing them.

HIV rash pictures

Here are HIV skin rash photos, see how they look on the surface of the skin


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