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Wednesday February 28, 2024

World AIDS Day: What to know about skin conditions caused by HIV?

Dermatological problems are common, affecting more than 90% of HIV patients

By Web Desk
December 01, 2023
HIV/AIDS can affect any organ, causing systemic illnesses that appear as skin involvement. — AFP/File
HIV/AIDS can affect any organ, causing systemic illnesses that appear as skin involvement. — AFP/File

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attacks the immune system and, if left untreated, can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) — individuals with weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to opportunistic infections, which can be fatal.

Dermatological problems are common, affecting more than 90% of HIV patients. These illnesses vary from infections to neoplastic disorders that present on the skin and mucosa and are frequently suggestive of the stage of HIV.

Some skin problems are early warning symptoms of HIV/AIDS and can help with diagnosis:

Kaposi's Sarcoma 

This tumorous condition shows as purple lesions and is characterised by malignant skin patches or nodules in mucous membranes. It is an AIDS-defining illness, with exceedingly low CD4 levels.

Herpes Zoster (Shingles) 

This virus causes blisters on the skin and causes acute, searing agony throughout the trunk or face.

Molluscum Contagiosum 

This extremely infectious illness is distinguished by pink or flesh-coloured skin lesions that can develop anywhere on the body.

Candidiasis 

It is a fungal illness that causes white lesions (thrush) in the oral cavity, vaginal regions, and nodular skin lesions. Other diseases, such as histoplasmosis and cryptococcal infections, cause comparable skin symptoms.

Infections with Dermatophytes 

These fungal skin infections are more common in HIV patients.

Virus Infections 

Immune decline attracts numerous viruses, such as Cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus, and Epstein Barr virus, which cause macular rashes on the trunk and face.

Drug Reactions 

Anti-HIV treatments or medications for opportunistic infections can cause rashes that range from mild to severe, such as Steven Johnson syndrome or Drug response with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS).

HIV may enhance skin sensitivity to UV radiation, damaging exposed regions after sun exposure.

Psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and eczema worsen in HIV patients, becoming treatment-resistant and predisposed to secondary infections.

HIV/AIDS can affect any organ, causing systemic illnesses that appear as skin involvement.

Hyperpigmentation is a common skin and nail condition in HIV patients.

Understanding the delicate relationship between HIV/AIDS and dermatological symptoms is critical for early diagnosis, complete therapy, and proactive care for those living with this complex illness.