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HIV Rash Symptoms

HIV Rash Symptoms

HIV rash is observed in people who have contracted the HIV infection. Presented below is more information on HIV rash, its signs and symptoms.
Madhura Pandit
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
The HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS, which is one of the life-threatening diseases in the world today. In most of the cases, this disease is caused because of having unprotected sex with multiple partners. Among the several symptoms of HIV/AIDS, skin rash is a significant one.

HIV Rashes

Skin rash is one of the early signs of HIV. Several prominent HIV symptoms like loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, memory loss, diarrhea, pain in joints, etc., are observed 1-2 months after contracting HIV. Secondly, HIV rash can also occur due to medication used to treat HIV. An adverse reaction of these medication or drugs can result in a skin rash. On the other hand, Herpes Simplex and Herpes Zoster infections can also cause skin rash in people tested positive for HIV. Although it is an important identifying symptom of HIV, it is often ignored or overlooked by people. Sometimes, there may also be a possibility of a person being diagnosed as HIV positive after suffering from a severe skin rash.


The skin becomes scaly and looks similar to that seen in case of psoriasis. However, the onset of the rash varies from person to person. In some people it may appear within a few weeks of contracting the infection, whereas in others, it may appear later. Usually, a skin rash appears in the acute seroconversion phase or the initial phase of HIV infection.
  • The warts, bumps, or sores are found on the skin, face, hands, feet, and in genital regions of men and women.
  • Bumps that are slightly protruded and dark brown in color are observed on the body.
  • Sometimes, the rash looks similar to hives or folliculitis. However, the distinguishing reddish-brown color helps in quick identification.
  • Some people even experience an itching sensation.
  • Acute HIV rash symptoms include peeling of the skin that leads to sores or blisters.
  • Apart from skin rash, in some cases, pimples and acne may even develop on some parts of the skin.
  • Skin rash is accompanied by other symptoms like diarrhea, unexplained weight loss, fever, headache, disorders of vision, and so on.
  • In the later or symptomatic phase, the skin rash worsens leading to bacterial infection, rashes, and blisters filled with fluids.
  • Skin rash also aggravates if the person contracts Herpes virus infection at that time.

Now, the first thing to note is that not all skin rashes are symptoms of HIV. As mentioned above, skin rashes can be caused due to several other causes. Therefore, proper diagnosis of the condition is very essential before commencing the treatment of it. A typical HIV rash lasts for 1-2 weeks; and is absent in the dormant or asymptomatic phase of the disease. Therefore, if a person observes a skin rash which is accompanied by any of the aforementioned symptoms, he/she should consult the doctor immediately.

As it is known, there is no complete treatment or cure for HIV infection. Some doctors may prescribe over-the-counter medications to soothe the irritation and itchiness caused. Doctors also advise the person to avoid exposure to extreme heat or cold climates, as it can aggravate the rash and itchiness on the skin. Apart from this, people should note that it is always advisable to follow preventive measures to avoid HIV infections. Following safe sex practices and avoiding blood-to-blood contact in any way are the best measures to prevent HIV infections.

It is essential to know and identify HIV rash symptoms as they are one of the distinguishing signs of AIDS. However, one should also remember that any skin rash is NOT always a symptom of HIV! Therefore, consulting a doctor as early as possible is essential. Take care!

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not, in any way, intend to replace the advice of a medical professional.