What Does an HIV Rash Look Like

Drugs that treat HIV and related infections can trigger rashes. These often go away several days or weeks after you stop taking the drug. Talk with your doctor before stopping any medication.

These could be signs of Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a severe form of hypersensitivity reaction. It’s rare but can be life-threatening.

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HIV Rash

Rashes associated with HIV can develop indirectly as the virus weakens the immune system. HIV destroys the cells of the immune system that are designed to fight infections, so if you are exposed to another virus, you may be more likely to become infected. If you’re susceptible to rashes due to other conditions, you may experience more of these rashes because your immune system is already compromised.

Most people who have HIV get a rash at some point. It’s a common symptom that can happen in early (acute) or later stages of HIV infection. For many, it may be one of the first signs of infection.

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What Is an HIV Rash

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Most people who have HIV end up developing an HIV rash—areas of irritated skin that may be itchy and even painful. HIV rash can be one of the early signs of a new infection, but may also be caused by advanced HIV or the drugs used to treat the virus.

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HIV Rashes Caused by Medication

The most common HIV rash occurs shortly after infection. It is an itchy rash that usually appears on the abdomen, face, arms, or legs and features a flat, red area covered in small red bumps.

Another possible cause of a rash that develops when someone has HIV is a reaction to a medication. In fact, a rash is one of the most common side effects of antiretroviral (ARV) medications used to treat HIV.

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Treatment of HIV-related skin rashes depends on the cause. If it’s because of a drug, stopping it should make the rash go away. Antiviral or antiretroviral medications may help you feel better. If you’re not sure what’s causing your rash, see your doctor.

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HIV Rash Treatment

Usually HIV infection leads to a brief period of symptoms shortly after infection occurs. Not everybody notices these symptoms, and they’re easy to mistake for a cold or the flu. One of the symptoms may be a rash.

The severity of your rash may depend on how healthy your immune system is. People with HIV need to monitor their health very closely, so it’s wise to make an appointment with your medical provider if you notice a rash developing. In addition, try to avoid itching the skin where the rash is since broken skin could increase the risk of infection.

What Does an HIV Rash Look Like

Rashes and Skin Conditions Associated with HIV and AIDS

This rash often looks like a slightly raised area of skin. Usually, it’s:

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Rash Caused by Acute HIV Infection

If you have a rash and think you may have been exposed to HIV, don’t wait. A blood test can easily tell whether you have the virus. The sooner you get diagnosed, the sooner you can begin treatment. Medications will help control the virus, keep your infection from becoming AIDS, and help you stay healthy and live longer. They’ll also lower your risk of spreading HIV to other people.

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