Owen Clinic
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Skin and Complexion

Approximately 90 percent of people living with HIV develop skin changes and symptoms at some stage during the course of their disease. The good news is that with good viral control and preservation of the immune system, skin problems have become far less common, less severe and easier to treat.


HIV rash is the most common HIV symptom. Many times, the skin is just extra sensitive to chemicals and sunlight. Sometimes the rash is caused by HIV. The typical HIV rash is often a flat red area on the skin that is covered with small bumps. Most allergies can be seen within 1 week to 2 weeks of new medication getting started. Rash also has other causes; these are Molluscum contagiosum, Herpes Simplex and Herpes Zoster infections, drug eruptions, and Kaposi sarcoma lesions. Also, an HIV skin rash can be the result of a medication that is used to treat HIV.


It is caused by Herpes Zoster virus.  It is a painful, blistering skin rash that looks like water blisters in a stripe or on one side of the body in an area covering inches to feet. This is due to reactivation of the chickenpox virus, which stayed dormant in your body since childhood. Shingles usually only involves one side of the body. It commonly involves the trunk and less often involves an arm, leg or region of the face. Development of shingles may be the first clue that someone is infected with HIV and that their immune system has been weakened. This painful condition can last for several weeks and occasionally spreads to other parts of the body. Several oral anti-viral medications are helpful. Early treatment can reduce the severity and duration of pain associated with shingles. Any involvement of the face or eye is a medical emergency.


Lesions in your skin can be caused by multiple infections. For example, Herpes Simplex I and II are well known for being the main cause of herpes lesions on the skin. It can happen anywhere on the skin. It can take several days to heal. Experts say it can take from seven to fourteen days.

To see pictures of and get better informed about skin conditions related to HIV and AIDS, visit: