Each December first marks international world AIDS day, a time to raise awareness about the impact of this virus. At the Skin and Cancer Institute, we join people worldwide to support those affected by HIV/AIDS and the dermatological conditions from which they’re more likely to suffer. These conditions include Kaposi’s sarcoma, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, shingles, herpes, molluscum contagiosum, oral hairy leukoplakia, and thrush.
HIV/AIDS Impacts Skin Health
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that leads to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). It weakens a person’s immune system and makes them more likely to suffer from the skin disorders listed below, especially Kaposi’s sarcoma or KS.
This type of cancer causes growth throughout the body, especially purple lesions on the face, legs, and feet. These lesions can also grow on other body parts, including the lymph nodes, liver, or lungs.
This itchy skin condition looks like dandruff. It mainly affects the scalp but can also affect other parts of the body. About 35 percent of people with early HIV infection are affected by seborrheic dermatitis. That number rises to about 85 percent in AIDS patients.
This autoimmune skin disease causes cells to grow too quickly and form scaly, silver-colored patches that itch. Of those who have HIV, an estimated 2-5 percent also have psoriasis. Systemic treatments for severe psoriasis tend to suppress the immune system. An HIV-positive person’s immune system is already suppressed, which makes managing psoriasis in people with HIV a challenge for dermatologists. Often, the focus is on reducing flare-up triggers like stress, smoking, and food allergies.
A person may experience shingles symptoms if they have a compromised immune system. A Shingles rash is painful and itchy.
The herpes simplex virus is the cause of oral and genital herpes. Outbreaks can sometimes be severe in immune-compromised people and can spread to tissue in the brain or lungs.
This skin condition causes bumps with a dimple in the middle. It’s contagious and spread by contact with infected skin.
Oral Hairy Leukoplakia
This condition causes white patches on the tongue that may look hairy, which is where it gets its name. It’s frequently seen in people who are immune-compromised and is caused by the Epstein Barr Virus.
This is caused by strains of yeast called candida. This fungal infection is common in people whose immune response is low—it usually appears in the mouth or genital area. In untreated HIV, it can spread throughout the body and cause severe illness.
World AIDS Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of skin conditions that affect people living with this virus. HIV/AIDS weakens the immune system and makes an affected person more likely to get a myriad of skin disorders, including Kaposi’s sarcoma, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, shingles, herpes, molluscum contagiosum, oral hairy leukoplakia, and thrush.
Our dermatologists have been trained to diagnose and treat all of these conditions. They’re happy to help on your journey to healthy skin. Contact us today for an appointment.