HIV is the short form of Human Immunodeficiency Virus which attacks vital cells in the body thus destroying natural immunity. It causes a disease called AIDS and such patients would develop multiple symptoms in their body one of which is HIV rash. A person infected with HIV virus gradually loses the ability of the body to fight against diseases. In short this virus targets and kills the lymphocytes by name CD4 cells which are responsible for guarding our body. Slowly the number of CD4 cells reduces in volume and finally reaches a dangerous level making the body prone to any number of infections.
HIV Symptoms :
A man infected with HIV virus would develop flu like symptoms within 3-4 weeks of infection which includes body rash, severe headache, sore throat and fever. The symptoms are not the same for each person and fortunately not every person infected with this deadly virus would develop AIDS. The person whose immune system is compromised has the chance of developing AIDS.
Skin rash is the characteristic feature of HIV infection. If you have flu like symptoms along with rash you need to check with your doctor without delay. The virus remains in the hibernation for several weeks before manifesting itself into full blown disease called AIDS. In the developing stages HIV can be easily controlled and destroyed with combination antiretroviral therapy. So, in future, if you have symptoms of fever, sore throat, muscle pain and skin rash never ignore the symptoms since it can be HIV infection. Some people may also develop signs of nausea, vomiting, loose stools and enlarged lymph nodes in addition to the above symptoms.
Causes Of HIV Rash :
In addition to other signs mentioned above, rash is considered to be the most prominent symptom of HIV. Once the virus gets into your bloodstream it targets and destroys the white blood cell which is the main cause of HIV rash. Generally HIV rash can develop within 2-3 weeks of getting infected indicating the body is losing plenty of WBC. There are few people who may develop rashes in later stage when the body could still maintain the level of WBC count.
- Weakened Immunity :
People with pre-existing immune diseases like diabetes, arthritis and cancer are at high risk of getting infected with HIV virus. The body already has poor ability to fight against any disease and in other words the body is vulnerable to any infection or disease. Under such condition, the person is likely to be infected with several viral infections like Herpes simplex, Herpes Zoster or shingles and Kaposis sarcoma.
- Medications Given For AIDS :
HIV rashes can develop due to the effect of medications. HIV rashes would be full blown on people who are under medications for HIV. These drugs trigger chemical reaction in the body for fighting against the virus triggering skin rashes.
- Allergic Response :
Since HIV is a disease that lowers the immune system, medications given for treating it would obviously trigger the immune system causing plenty of changes in the body. The body becomes sensitive to these changes causing skin rash.
- Shape Of HIV Rash :
HIV rash is seen in the form of small red papules in the skin. It can occur anywhere in the body and often is widely distributed on the entire skin area. HIV rash resemble maculopapular rash giving a red coloration to the skin. Molluscum contagiousum rash would present itself in the form of firm pink lesions connected to the skin by a stalk. The rashes are much bigger in size in HIV patients (who already have been infected) and can cause disfigurement. Such rashes are difficult to be treated.
HIV Rash :
- Small red lumps resembling pimples
- Rashes often occur in clusters
- Generally the rash is not itchy but in some cases it can be itchy
- Rash can occur anywhere in the body but prominently found in shoulder, chest and face
- HIV rash is not contagious and can last up to 4 weeks.
HIV Rash Types :
HIV rash cannot be categorized but for better understanding we can differentiate it into 4 main types.
- Adverse Reaction Of Drugs – A person diagnosed with HIV is put on antiviral medications therapy which can cause prominent rashes. Drugs like Nevirapine or Amprenavir or Abacavir can cause severe rashes on the body. The rashes remain in the body as long as you continue to take medications.
- Acute Rash – Acute rashes can occur in the body within few days of getting infected. Often acute rash is seen with other symptoms like fever, body pain, chills and sore throat.
- Symptomatic Rash – HIV rash of this kind are red or pink in color and can be itchy. The body is under the 3rd phase of infection and from this stage on rashes is difficult to be treated. It may last for longer period for years together. The areas like groin, arms, chest, face and back are targeted largely with rash.
- Herpes Rash – Along with HIV virus, herpes simplex virus can also infect the body. It becomes very difficult for the medical person to treat such rashes and in such cases mortality rate is high.
Hiv Rash Distribution :
Initially HIV rash starts with small red spots on one or two areas of the body. But as the virus multiplies vigorously the rash would continue to spread in the body within few days. Distribution of rash becomes extensive.
Hiv Rash Period :
- In case of acute HIV rash the rashes may remain in the body for 3-5 weeks and would resolve automatically when the immune system is strong enough to destroy the virus infection.
- In case of Molluscum contagiosum rash it may remain in your body for few months. It may take some weeks or months for responding after taking medications.
- Herpes Simplex rash is difficult to be treated since it occurs repeatedly remaining in the body for months together. Antibiotic treatment is to be continued for longer period even after the disappearance of rash failing which it may recur.
- In case of drug induced rash (people who are in medications for HIV infection) the rashes can resolve within few weeks but sometimes it may take months together. Rash period depends on the intensity of infection. The milder is the infection the lesser is the time taken for treating rash and vice versa.
After completing physical examination and checking with the symptoms, your doctor would request for blood serum test to check the levels of WBC. If necessary biopsy of the small tissue sample from the rash is analyzed in the laboratory for confirming the diagnosis. Further to get accurate picture of the infection, ELISA test would be done and if the result is positive, Western blot test will be done.
Hiv Rash Treatment :
Suitable antiviral medications are prescribed for treating HIV rash. However your physician would have to diagnose the root cause of HIV infection before giving any drugs. In case you have developed HIV rashes only after taking medicines for HIV your doctor may give suitable alternative drugs.
Oral medications along with topical creams that contain hydrocortisone are effective in treating HIV rash. OTC antihistamines and topical steroid creams can give quick relief from HIV rash. For treating Molluscum conagiosum rash your doctor may prefer laser therapy or liquid nitrogen cryotherapy method. For more severe cases like Kaposis sarcoma chemo or radiation therapy is recommended. It might take a long time for the HIV rash to completely heal. It can range anywhere from weeks to months or sometimes even years. Cause of HIV, intensity of the infection, age and intensity of immune disorder determines the time of healing of HIV rash.
Hiv Rash Prevention :
- You cannot totally prevent getting viral infection. But you can always keep the immune system powerful by taking suitable precautions.
- Avoid having sex with multiple partners.
- Avoid having sexual relationship with total strangers.
- Avoid going out in harsh sunlight and similarly wear protective clothing if you are going out in extreme cold climate. Extreme weather conditions can trigger HIV rash.
- In case of medical emergency ensure that you are given safe blood transfusion since you can get HIV infection through blood.
Hiv Rash Home Remedies :
- Wear cotton clothing only and avoid synthetic and other fabrics if you are suffering from rash.
- Do not take hot water bath since it may worsen the rash instead opt for cold water or lukewarm water bath.
- Do not change soap or detergent and follow the instructions of your doctor.
- Complete the course of HAART treatment even if the symptoms have improved.
- Don’t hesitate to consult your doctor if you suspect HIV rash since delaying the treatment can make conditions worse.
- HIV is a complicated disease that destroys your immunity and sooner the diagnosis and treatment sooner will be your recovery.