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HIV AIDS patients are commonly affected by oral thrush, psoriasis, dandruff, shingles + 6 other skin conditions and rashes.
HIV is the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) which weakens the body’s immune system. 90% of HIV patients suffer from some form of skin rashes in their lifetime. Skin diseases are often viewed as indicators of disease progression. The weakened immune system can lead to opportunistic infections or infections that are more rampant than normal.
Dermatologist Dr. Rashmi Shetty elaborates on the major skin conditions and rashes associated with HIV AIDS.
1) Oral thrush: The most common among HIV patients infection is oral thrush which is caused by a type of yeast called candida fungus and it usually presents with a creamy white raised layer in your mouth usually on your tongue or in the cheeks sometimes on the roof of your mouth, gums, tonsils or back of your throat and can be painful and may bleed slightly when you scrape it or brush your teeth.
Treatment: Your physician can treat you with a course of antifungal solutions and tablets. It’s advisable to do warm salt water to gargle your mouth after eating every time.
2) Oral hairy leukoplakia- It occurs in the mouth as a white thick smooth or raised hairy lesion on the sides of the tongue. It is caused by an Epstein- Barr virus. The lesion usually doesn’t cause pain or discomfort.
Treatment: This condition is usually treated with a regular antiretroviral treatment. Sometimes if needed antiviral drugs can be initiated.
3) Molluscum contagiosum- This is a contagious viral infection. It’s smooth pearly white or flesh coloured bumps on skin on any part of the body.
Treatment: It usually resolves on its own when patient’s immunity improves. Your doctor can do needling or cryotherapy if fewer lesions are there. If there are multiple lesions, it can be treated topical antiviral medications.
4) Infections caused by herpes virus– Another common organism which causes infection in HIV patients is herpes virus. There are two types of herpes virus. Type 1 which occurs most often on or near the mouth and appears as a cold sore, and herpes simplex type 2, which occurs most often on or near private organs and is called genital herpes. The latter is a sexually transmitted disease.
Treatment: Both the conditions are treated with topical and systemic antiviral along with antibiotics if there is a coexistent bacterial infection.
5) Shingles ( also known as herpes zoster)– Usually it’s caused by chicken pox virus which remains dormant in our body as a result of past infection in childhood. Under low immunity or acute stress, the virus gets activated in the nerve cells and causes active infection in that particular nerve distribution. Multiple nerve involvement is commonly seen in HIV patients. Patients can experience sharp pain, burning and tingling sensation. They’re small fluid-filled blisters which break. This results in an eroded surface.
Treatment: This condition is treated with antiviral medications and other painkillers are given for symptomatic management.
6) Psoriasis– It is a common skin disease presents with thick red scaly lesions especially over elbows, knees, scalp, nails and lower back. They can be widespread or pustular in HIV patients.
Treatment: The condition can be treated with steroid creams and vitamin D derivatives or phototherapy.
7) Seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff)- It can be more severe with inflammation, itching and scaling over the scalp or over the chest.
Treatment: This condition can be treated with topical antifungal in combination with a steroid or salicylic acid combination.
8) Scabies – A common parasitic infestation occurring in normal individuals can be severe in HIV patient wherein loads of parasites can infect them because of lowered immunity.
Treatment: It can be treated when the patient maintains good hygiene and with certain antiscabicidal medications.
9) Kaposi sarcoma (KS) – This is a cancer in HIV patients caused by a virus usually occurring in skin and mucous membranes. They are purplish or dark raised lesions on the skin. It can spread to other internal organs.
Treatment: KS can be treated with radiotherapy, chemotherapy or biologic therapy.
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