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Skin Conditions Related to HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS and Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is an infection that is marked by smooth white or flesh-colored bumps on the skin. It is caused by a virus and is contagious.

This condition is not serious, and the bumps often resolve on their own without treatment. However, in people with HIV infection whose immune systems are functioning poorly, the infection can become very chronic and progressive.  If necessary, the bumps can be removed by a doctor by scraping or freezing. Drug treatments may include retinoic acid or imiquimod cream. Again, the best treatment is to treat the HIV itself, and as the immune system improves, the molluscum will resolve.

HIV/AIDS and Herpes

There are two types of herpes: Herpes simplex type 1 (or HSV-1), which occurs most often on or near the mouth and appears as a cold sore, and herpes simplex type 2 (or HSV-2), which occurs most often on or near the sex organs and is sometimes called "genital herpes." The herpes virus is spread by close personal contact, such as kissing or sexual intercourse. Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease, or STD.

There is no cure for herpes. Once a person has the virus, it remains in the body. The virus lies latent in the nerve cells until something triggers it to become active again. These herpes "outbreaks," which can include the painful herpes sores, can be controlled with antiviral medication.

Learn more about herpes.

Shingles Can Be a Painful Link to HIV/AIDS

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is an infection caused by the chicken pox virus. This virus remains dormant in the nerve cells of people who have had chicken pox, and can reactivate in the body later on, resulting in illness.

Early symptoms of shingles include tingling feeling, itchiness, numbness, and stabbing pain on the skin. Additional symptoms arise a few days later, and usually include: a band or patch of raised spots on the side of the trunk or face (on one side of the body only), small, fluid-filled blisters, a red rash, and pain lasting for several weeks.

Although shingles, like all other viral diseases, cannot be cured, it usually will go away on its own and may not require any treatment, except to control symptoms. Doctors can prescribe antiviral medications to control the infection, and reduce the severity and duration of the disease.

To combat the pain, doctors may recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen. A stronger pain reliever, such as codeine or oxycodone, may be prescribed for severe pain and discomfort.

Learn more about shingles.

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