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TweetThere are many types of skin diseases that can affect a person irrespective of their HIV status. Dermatomycosis or dermatophytosis is a common skin infection seen in HIV patients and is caused by fungi.
Impetigo is an infection of the skin primarily caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes after a break in the skin or with micro-tears formed during scratching. A viral infection caused by the Herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 or HSV-2) and has a tendency to affect the mouth or genitals. Varicella zoster is a virus that causes chickenpox but reactivation later in life results in herpes zoster (shingles).
Scabies arises from an allergic reaction to the mite Sarcoptes scabiei which burrows into the skin. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacteria, Treponema pallidum, which presents with painless sores (chancre) on the genitals, rectum or mouth (primary syphilis). Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection that causes small raised lesions (papules) particularly on the face, neck, scalp and genitals. Ask a Doctor Online Now!Please note that any information or feedback on this website is not intended to replace a consultation with a health care professional and will not constitute a medical diagnosis. While much less contagious than chicken pox, a person with shingles can transmit the virus by means of direct skin contact if blisters break. While shingles is most common on the trunk and buttocks, it can appear anywhere the nerves have been affected, including the face, arms, or legs. To diagnose shingles, a dermatologist looks at the appearance of the skin and asks if the patient has experienced pain before the rash developed.
To reduce swelling and pain, a corticosteroid may be prescribed along with the anti-viral medication.
Probably the most common problem of shingles is post-herpetic neuralgia, which is described above. Shingles in the eye that is not promptly treated can lead to complications such as glaucoma, scarring, and blindness.
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Similarly, HIV-positive patients are prone to various skin diseases that are unrelated to HIV infection. While a number of molds or yeasts may be responsible, Malassezia furfur (Pitysporum ovale) is one of the more prevalent fungi.
Also known as cold sores (herpes labialis) or genital herpes, it can also affect other areas, most notably the perianal region (around the anus). Chickenpox is a common childhood infection but immunization or contracting the disease early in life offers immunity against infection. In HIV infection, extensive anogenital warts are persistent and patients may commonly report warts on other areas of the body as well, especially the fingers.
Also known as shingles or zoster, herpes zoster is caused by the same virus as chicken pox.


A temporary weakness in immunity (the body's ability to fight infection) may cause the virus to multiply and move along nerve fibers toward the skin. A person may feel burning, itching, tingling, or extreme sensitivity on the skin (usually limited to an area on one side of the body). At first the blisters are clear, but then look yellow or bloody before they crust over (scab) and disappear. To confirm the diagnosis, a dermatologist may scrape skin cells from a blister onto a glass slide for examination under a microscope.
While shingles is clearing, pain relievers can help ease the discomfort, and cool compresses may provide soothing relief. A corticosteroid also can help alleviate inflammation when a severe infection develops such as in an eye. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for persons aged 60 years and older who have never had shingles.
Typically given to children, the vaccine also may be given to some adults who have not had chicken pox.
However, there are number of HIV-related skin diseases that have to be considered as these conditions are more likely to arise with the immune deficiency associated with HIV infection.
Distribution may be anywhere on the body but the hands, legs, face and chest are more commonly affected. With HIV infection, it may spread to the anus and rectum or occur within the oral cavity (mucocutaneous herpes).
In the backdrop of HIV infection however, chickenpox and shingles may be frequently seen in adults and the extremely contagious nature of chickenpox often leads to outbreaks.
The hands and feet, areas between the fingers and toes, abdominal area and buttocks are typically affected. After the chicken pox clear, the virus remains dormant (inactive) within certain nerve cells of the body.
These include cancers, AIDS, treatment for cancer such as chemotherapy or radiation, drugs taken to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ, and cortisone when taken for a long time. These symptoms are typically present for one to three days, sometimes more, before a red rash appears in the same area. Great care is needed if the blisters involve the eye because permanent eye damage can result.
Also, the blister fluid containing the virus can be sent to a laboratory for special testing.
Patients who have decreased immunity also are routinely prescribed an anti-viral medication. In one study, this immunization decreased the incidence of shingles by more than 50 percent. These diseases are not isolated only to different infections of the skin and underlying tissue but may involve non-infectious disease processes that have a tendency to arise in HIV-positive patients. It may also be responsible for folliculitis and secondary infections in seborrheic dermatitis.


Shingles only occurs after a person develops chicken pox and the virus re-emerges in certain nerve cells. In addition to treating the shingles, an anti-viral medication can prevent post-herpetic neuralgia (pain, numbness, itching, and tingling that last long after the rash clears).
If a patient develops post-herpetic neuralgia (pain, numbness, itching, and tingling that lasts long after the rash clears), it may be treated with pain relievers. Oral medications, anti-depressants, anti-seizure and antineuralgia medicines also may be of some benefit. An infection involving shingles lesions can lead to scarring if not appropriately treated in a timely manner. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health.
Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. Itchy blisters that appear after hiking, gardening, or spending time outdoors could be a reaction to poison ivy, oak, or sumac. The first time someone is exposed to the virus, it causes the widespread, itchy sores known as chickenpox. If you have shingles symptoms, see your health care provider even if you think you've never had chickenpox.
Many childhood cases of chickenpox are mild enough to go unnoticed, but the virus can still linger and reactivate.
In most healthy people, the blisters leave no scars, and the pain and itching go away after a few weeks or months. People older than age 60 are 10 times more likely to get shingles than children under age 10.
This pain, due to damaged nerves in and beneath the skin, is known as postherpetic neuralgia. Prompt treatment can make a case of shingles shorter and milder, while cutting in half the risk of developing postherpetic neuralgia.
If the pain is severe or the rash is concentrated near an eye or ear, consult your doctor right away. To speed up the drying out of the blisters, try placing a cool, damp washcloth on the rash (but not when wearing calamine lotion or other creams.) If your doctor gives you the green light, stay active while recovering from shingles. In a large trial, this vaccine cut the risk of developing shingles in half and reduced the risk of postherpetic neuralgia by 67%. The vaccine won't treat a current outbreak of shingles, but it can prevent future attacks if you have already had shingles.



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