HIV rash

HIV rash Definition

It is a skin rash that occurs commonly in HIV patients. Approximately, 80% of HIV-affected patients develop this condition.

How Does HIV rash look like?

HIV skin Rash

HIV rash is usually red in color. The appearance may vary according to the severeness of the condition. Raised small bumps on skin is observed in most of the causes.

HIV rash Symptoms

The dermatologic problem most often appears 2-3 weeks after being infected with the virus. The rashes can occur on any part of body, but usually affects the face, chest, back, hands, legs and trunk. Additionally, men infected with HIV can develop sores and fluid-filled blisters on the mouth, genitals and eyes. Following are the characteristics of the condition:

  • Brown or red skin bumps similar to eczema
  • Inflammation of one or more follicles of hair
  • Itchy bumps
  • Peeling of the skin
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Visual disturbances
  • Swollen glands
  • Muscle ache
  • Loss of memory
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain

In the advanced stages of HIV, the symptoms can worsen and cause several complications.

Does HIV rash itch?

Yes, HIV rash is highly itchy in nature.

HIV rash Causes

As aforesaid, individuals with acute HIV infection are likely to develop such rashes. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a dreadful retrovirus, which typically invades tissues lining the vagina, anal region, mouth, or eyes. The infection slowly progresses through three stages. The painful rashes however, mark the primary stage of infection along with other flu-like symptoms. The dermatologic manifestation can occur during seroconversion when detectable antibodies are produced against the infectious agents in the blood.

HIV Rash photo

In few cases, antiretroviral drugs like amprenavir, nevirapine and abacavir used solely for the treatment of initial symptoms can trigger an allergic reaction and cause rash as a side effect. The virus can severely weaken the immune system due to which the body fails to fight minor as well major infections resulting in rashes.

HIV rash Diagnosis

Chronic rashes are associated with numerous skin disorders and difficult to diagnose during a physical examination. In order to confirm HIV as the underlying cause of the condition, two blood tests are routinely used. In the first test, the total number of CD4 cells is counted. Infected patients always show a low CD4 cell count. The second type of blood test involves the measurement of viral load in the blood. Patients with high viral loads are more likely to experience a decline in CD4 cells and progression of disease than those with lower viral loads. The effectiveness of new therapies and drugs can also be assessed by determining the amount of virus in the blood.

HIV rash Treatment

Rashes as early sign of HIV infection usually resolves within 1-2 weeks, and completely disappears in the dormant or asymptomatic phase of the disease. However, there is no complete treatment or cure for HIV infection. Physicians may prescribe over-the-counter medications to soothe the irritation and itchiness. Affected patients must avoid exposure to extreme heat or cold as it can aggravate the rash and cause severe discomfort.

HIV rash is a premonitory sign of a fatal condition and must not be ignored. Although, such rashes can indicate a host of illnesses, timely diagnosis can prevent the infection from spreading to the other parts of the body.

Difference between HIV rash and other Conditions or Rashes

HIV rash can often be confused with some of the other conditions.

Difference between HIV rash and Heat Rash (HIV rash vs. Heat Rash)

You can differentiate between HIV rash and Heat rash by its appearance. Heat rash (Miliaria) are of 3 kinds :-

Miliaria crystalline

This kind of heat rash is mild in nature. Patients might observe multiple tiny blisters filled with fluid.

Miliaria Rubra

It is an itchy rash present present with red bumps. They are as well tiny in nature.

Miliaria Profunda

It is a rare and most severe form of Heat rash. Patients might experience symptoms like dizziness, lack of sweating and heart palpitation. It looks like goose bumps and are skin colored in mostly.


Difference between acne (pimples) and HIV rash (HIV rash vs. acne)

Acne may appear differently on different people, it depends on the skin color and severeness of it. The best way to differentiate between Hiv rash and acne is to follow the HIV symptoms and consult a doctor if you have them.

Difference between HIV rash and Hives (HIV rash vs. hives)

Hives are present with red base and circular red bumps on it. It looks a lot different than HIV rash in appearance.

Pictures of  HIV rash

HIV Rash on Chest hiv rash on african american skin

Image of HIV rash HIV Rash on Hand

HIV Rash on elbow and forearm HIV Rash on Face Picture




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