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Skin Conditions Related to HIV/AIDS

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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.

Psoriasis and HIV/AIDS

Psoriasis is a common skin disorder that produces thick, pink-to-red, itchy patches of skin covered with silvery scales. The rash usually occurs on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back and in the same place on both sides of the body. It can also occur in fingernails.

Psoriasis cannot be cured, but treatment greatly reduces signs, even in severe cases. Common treatments include steroid creams, topical vitamin D derivatives, and topical retinoids; these may also be used with ultraviolet light therapy for severe cases. For severe disease, there are a number of effective therapies taken in pill form or by injection.

Learn more about psoriasis.

HIV/AIDS and Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin around where the sebaceous glands are located (primarily in the head, face, chest, upper back, and groin). When these glands produce too much oil, it causes red and flaking skin.

There is no cure for seborrheic dermatitis. To treat this condition, you can use a shampoo that contains coal tar, zinc pyrithione, or selenium sulfide. Other treatments include topical antifungals such as ketoconazole or topical corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone. In someone with HIV infection, the seborrheic dermatitis will improve as the immune system improves with treatment of HIV.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on September 21, 2014
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