HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus that slowly destroys a human body’s immune system. It then causes AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. AIDS is a syndrome that impairs the capacity of the human body to fight off different infections. AIDS currently has no cure but can be prevented if the symptoms of HIV are properly diagnosed and tested early. One of the most common symptoms to be looked upon is the HIV rash.
Basically, it is a vital symptom of an HIV infection which normally occurs within two to six weeks right after catching the virus. Just like other early symptoms of HIV, HIV rash can be easily mistaken for a symptom of another viral infection. Hence, it is essential for this rash to be immediately identified along with other manifestations of early HIV infection to recognize it in its budding stage and distinguish it from other infections.
Causes of HIV Rash :
Getting HIV rashes can be explained by several causes. It can be caused by either the HIV infection itself or an opportunistic infection since the human body’s immune system is already impaired, making it difficult for the body to fight against rash-causing diseases. It can also be from anti-HIV drugs which have common side effects of skin rashes. It is actually more frequent to appear with usage of these drugs than not taking any of these drugs at all. An allergic reaction can be considered as a reason since HIV infection impairs the immune system, resulting to changes of how the human body reacts to substances which seemed normal before.
HIV Rash Symptoms :
Like a few other rashes, itchiness is the primary symptom of HIV rash. It is usually red with skin bumps, just like eczema. It is commonly seen in the face, shoulder, chest area, back, hands, and feet. The infected person may also feel nauseous, fever, muscle pains, joint pains, body aches, headaches, swollen glands, and fatigue. The person might also have mouth sores, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, peeling of skin, visual disturbances, and loss of memory.
Some people may not be able to tell all the symptoms on their own, or even notice the symptoms they are carrying but then HIV rash shows clear signs which makes other people help the affected person notice about this condition. Clear signs include frequent vomiting, enlargement of glands, peeling of skin, and reddish skin bumps similar to eczema.
HIV rash is important to be confirmed so as to not be confused with other common rashes. Two blood tests are conducted in order to confirm that the rash is certainly from an HIV infection, and also to measure the total number of CD4 cells and viral load in the blood. When HIV rash is observed, it is advisable to immediately get HIV tested. On the other hand, HIV test should only be conducted when the infected person has confirmed the onset of HIV rash with its visible signs and symptoms.
HIV rash is quite difficult to be diagnosed as it can be mistakenly diagnosed as a common rash caused by any viral infection. For diagnosis, HIV rash tests are conducted which include two blood tests. The first blood test is to determine the overall number of CD4 cells since affected people always manifest a low count of CD4 cells in their blood. The second test is for the viral load measurement of the blood since affected people are more likely to encounter a rapid decrease in CD4 cells as compared to those with lower viral loads. HIV rash can only be diagnosed properly and accurately by analysing the amount of virus in one’s blood.
Once an HIV rash is diagnosed, HIV test is always recommended for possible treatment or prevention of outlying diseases. Since the rash is only found among HIV infected people, being HIV positive is certain. Due to this reason, along with no care or treatments, full-blown AIDS is expected as the worst-case scenario for this disease. Even with HIV infection, AIDS can be controlled with the advice from professional doctors and other medical personnel, but it can never be prevented. HIV impairs CD4 cells, which are vital for the human body’s immune system. Thus, the body loses power to fight off infections and diseases, eventually resulting to AIDS.
HIV rash may be life-threatening but one can actually prevent from getting this disease. Rashes are commonly triggered by extreme coldness or heat, so avoiding hot places with direct sunlight may help prevent the rashes from taking place. More importantly, unprotected sex should be avoided at all costs to eliminate the chances of getting infected.
Types of HIV Rash :
HIV rash has no formal definition in medical texts, but it can be divided into four categories: HIV rash due to adverse medicine reaction, acute HIV rash, symptomatic HIV rash, and Herpes as the main cause of HIV rash. Although it is divided into four categories, no HIV rash is contagious unlike HIV infection.
HIV rash can be treated but the underlying cause, HIV, cannot be. Since it can be treated, it should not be much of a problem but a rare and possibly severe case can happen. One complication known for HIV rash is the Stevens-Johnson syndrome, which is developed through taking anti-HIV medications.
Treatments and Home Remedies of HIV Rash :
Since HIV rash is similar to a common rash, it can be easily treated. There are a lot of ways to treat a person with HIV rash, such as taking medications and making use of some home remedies. Some recommended medications are Antihistamines, Steroids, and Antiviral drugs. However, these medications might not be advisable if certain allergic reactions occur or more rashes are caused by certain medications.
Home remedies can also be performed to treat HIV rash. Some treatments that you can apply are wearing soft cotton clothes, avoiding hot showers and baths and applying medicated cream on the rash. It is also advised to continue taking antiviral drugs or if other symptoms continue to occur, it is best to consult a doctor immediately.