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Reviewed by Ruthann Cunningham, MD, June 26, 2017
Many people who have HIV experience skin
rash or other skin symptoms at some stage of the disease. It can be the
first symptom people with a new HIV infection have when the disease
becomes more advanced. This rash can be very distressing for
patients because it can be quite noticeable and cause embarrassment.
The rash associated with HIV is described as maculopapular, which
means that it can be both flat and raised in certain areas. It is
usually a reddish color, with a rough texture that can feel bumpy
to the touch, and is itchy. This is fairly typical of rashes
in general and why it's important not to assume that a rash is due to
HIV without being tested or examined by a physician.
People with HIV can also have rashes
for reasons other than the disease itself. Sometimes rashes are
just due to sensitivity to sunlight,
medications or contact with certain chemicals.
The three main classes of anti-HIV drugs used in the disease's treatment
can also cause skin rashes. NNRTIs such as nevirapine (Viramune) are
the most common cause of medication skin rashes.
Whether caused by an HIV medication or by the disease itself, an
HIV rash typically occurs on the chest,
legs, and face
(although it can show up on any part of your body). The rash is usually not
found on the mucous membranes (mouth, nostrils, eyes, genitals), palms of
the hands, or in between the fingers.