What Do HIV Skin Lesions Look Like?

The skin is the largest organ of our body and it is equally being controlled by our immune system. Skin lesions from HIV are a reaction to immune function deficiencies. Skin lesions can differ in appearance and symptoms.

The severity of your condition can also differ, and it may even agree with the efficiency of your current HIV treatment.


HIV-related herpes may cause red blisters to form on your mouth or genitals. Prescription medications are required to clear up lesions and prevent their spread. The blisters may even appear on the eyes in severe cases. Herpes lesions are caused by the same virus related to chickenpox. Herpes increases your risk for developing shingles.


Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), in HIV patients. They can be flesh-colored or look like small specks of cauliflower. Warts can bleed if irritated and become susceptible to infection, especially if they are present in the folds of skin or in the mouth. Warts can be surgically removed, though they tend to reappear in people with HIV.

READ ALSO: HPV In Your Mouth, What Does It Look Like?


HIV can make you more susceptible to a type of skin cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma. It can be brown, red, or purple in colour and it forms dark skin lesions along blood vessels and lymph nodes. This condition often occurs in the later stages of HIV when the T4 cell count is low, and the immune system is weak.

READ ALSO: What Does Skin Cancer Look Like?

Oral hairy leukoplakia

Oral hairy leukoplakia is a mouth infection that appears as white lesions across the tongue. Many of the spots have a hairy look. It is caused by a mouth virus. This virus comes from a weakened immune system, which is why it’s so common in HIV.

Molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a skin condition that causes bumps ranging from the color of your flesh to dark pink. The lesions are usually painless, but highly contagious. People who have HIV or AIDS can experience an outburst of 100 or more bumps at a time. The bumps are treated with liquid nitrogen.

Seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is often linked with psoriasis, but the two conditions are different. This condition is more common in people with HIV, than in people with psoriasis.

Symptoms of this condition may appear as a yellow, oily, and scaly plaques. The scales can bleed when irritated, scratched, and inflamed. The condition is treated with either over-the-counter or prescription strength hydrocortisone.


Thrush causes white lesions inside all areas of the mouth, including the tongue. This skin infection occurs in the same spots as oral hairy leukoplakia, but it has a thicker layer. It is caused by a fungus, not a virus.

Antifungal mouthwash and oral medications can help relieve this condition. This condition often reoccurs in people with HIV. Antifungal and HIV medications can help provide relief.


Scabies are created by mites called Sarcoptes scabiei. The resulting bites are red papules that are very itchy. Scabies can affect anyone, they are extreme in people with HIV because the mites and scabies can quickly multiply into several thousand papules. The lesions are extremely contagious because the mites can spread to other people, as well as to other parts of the body.


Psoriasis is a skin condition where skin cells develop faster than they should. It is caused by problems in the immune system.

The result is an accumulation of dead skin cells that often turn silver in color. These scales can happen on any area of the body and may turn red and swollen without treatment. Applying topical steroid ointments, don’t work well in people with HIV. Using retinoid creams and phototherapy may be a better option.

Skin rashes is more likely to occur in people with HIV because of the immune system deficiencies caused by the deadly disease. Consult your doctor about treatment options. The occurrence of skin lesions can be reduced by effective HIV treatments.

Disclaimer: The content provided on healthdiary365.com is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.

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