HIV Face Changes: What to Look Out For

If you have HIV/AIDS, it is essential to be aware of any changes in your face. You should pay attention to facial symptoms since they might be associated with certain medical conditions caused by the virus. In this blog post, we’ll explore warning signs that may indicate something wrong and what action can be taken if necessary. Remember: although there isn’t a direct link between this disease and the HIV face changes to one’s facial features, being proactive is always important!



The Most Common Symptoms

HIV can noticeably affect the face, causing discoloration or flushing. Discoloration appears as either darkening or lightening of certain facial areas, like in the vicinity of the eyes and mouth. Flushing is when your skin turns reddish pink and generates a feeling of heat. These two symptoms can happen separately or together, so it’s important to note when either occurs unexpectedly.

Other Signs To Be On Guard For

If you notice any of the following symptoms, it is essential to seek medical advice right away: discoloration and flushing, dryness, rash or hives, cysts, or blemishes. Ignoring these signs can lead to permanent damage due to HIV-related issues. Your doctor will be able to diagnose any underlying skin problems quickly so that proper treatment can begin immediately.


hiv face symptomsA rash is one of the most common symptoms associated with HIV, and this skin symptom can range in intensity. The typical HIV-related rash tends to be an area covered in small bumps that are red and flat but could also manifest as extra sensitivity when exposed to sunlight or chemicals. An individual may experience a reaction within two weeks after starting new medications; other possible causes include Molluscum contagiosum, herpes zoster infections, drug eruptions, and Kaposi sarcoma lesions – even from treatments prescribed for HIV itself!


The herpes zoster virus causes shingles. It is a painful, blistering skin rash that looks like water blisters in a stripe on one side of the body. The skin changes are due to the reactivation of the chickenpox virus, which has stayed dormant in your body since childhood. Shingles usually only involve one side of the body, often the trunk or, less commonly, an arm, leg, or region of the face. The development of shingles may be the first clue that someone is infected with HIV and has a weakened immune system. This painful condition can last several weeks and occasionally spread to other body parts. Several oral antiviral 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.


Viral infections can cause lesions in your skin. Herpes simplex I and II infections are the main causes of lesions on the skin. Lesions can happen anywhere on the skin. They can take one to two weeks to heal.

HIV/AIDS and Skin Conditions

Skin conditions are common in people with HIV/AIDS. Many, including Kaposi sarcoma, thrush, and herpes, are caused by germs that take advantage of a weakened immune system. That’s why they are called “opportunistic” infections. Others, like photodermatitis, may be linked to inflammation caused by an overactive immune system as it revives during antiretroviral drug therapy or due to the drugs themselves.

Here are some more common skin conditions related to HIV/AIDS.

Molluscum contagiosum

hiv face changes and managementThis is a highly contagious viral skin infection that may be passed from person to person through skin-to-skin contact, by sharing linens, or by simply touching the same objects. Molluscum contagiosum causes pink or flesh-colored bumps on the skin. In people with HIV/AIDS, an outbreak of more than 100 bumps can occur.

Although the bumps are generally harmless, they won’t go away without treatment if you have AIDS. Your doctor may freeze off the bumps with liquid nitrogen (cryosurgery) or destroy them with a laser or topical ointment. The treatment will generally be repeated every six weeks until they’re gone.

Herpes viruses

Several types of herpes viruses are common in people with AIDS. Herpes simplex viral infections cause an outbreak of sores around the genital area or the mouth. Herpes zoster viral infection is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. It can also result in shingles, an extremely painful blistering rash on one side of the body. Herpes viral infections are often treated with antiviral medications.

Kaposi sarcoma

This type of cancer starts in the cells that line the lymph or blood vessels. Kaposi sarcoma causes dark lesions on the skin, which may appear as brown, purple, or red patches or nodules. Kaposi sarcoma can cause significant swelling of the skin as well as serious, life-threatening symptoms and difficulty breathing due to its ability to affect organs like the lungs, liver, and parts of the digestive tract.

Those who have AIDS are especially prone to Kaposi sarcoma, a condition brought on by dangerously low levels of CD4 lymphocyte (T4 cell) counts and an immunodeficient system. Luckily, with the introduction of potent antiretroviral medications, cases have drastically decreased, yet if it does take effect, treatment is still available through radiation therapy, surgery, or chemotherapy.

Oral hairy leukoplakia

Oral hairy leukoplakia is a viral infection that can affect the mouth and cause thick, white lesions on the tongue. This condition is most common among those with AIDS due to their weakened immune system, but luckily does not require any specific treatment; however, antiretroviral medications are highly effective in boosting your immunity and helping clear up this infection.


hiv patient symptomsOral candidiasis, or thrush, is a fungal infection that causes a thick white layer on the tongue or inner cheeks. Thrush can be managed with antifungal medications, mouth lozenges, and mouth rinses. It is quite common in people with AIDS and can be difficult to treat because the infection tends to come back. Taking effective HIV medication usually improves this condition.


This is a skin condition in which the skin reacts to exposure to the sun by turning darker in color. It’s most common in people of color, but anyone with HIV is susceptible to photodermatitis. If you’re taking medications to improve immune strength, you may have this reaction as a side effect. Protecting the skin from the sun is usually used to reduce photodermatitis.

Prurigo nodularis

This skin condition involves outbreaks of itchy, crusted lumps on the skin. The itching can be intense and severe. Prurigo nodularis is most common with extremely weakened immune systems and among people of color with HIV/AIDS. Topical steroid treatment (lotions or creams put right on the skin) and managing HIV/AIDS with antiretroviral drugs are used to treat the condition.

Antiretroviral drugs can help prevent and manage some of these types of skin conditions. Other skin conditions may be triggered by the treatment and require other treatments. Talk with your doctor about the best therapy for your particular skin condition.

When To Seek Help

If you’ve noticed any sudden changes in your face that don’t seem normal for you, it’s important to seek medical help right away; even if it doesn’t turn out to be related directly to HIV itself, knowing what could be causing your symptoms will give you peace of mind. Additionally, many people living with HIV/AIDS find relief from their facial concerns through medications and therapies provided by healthcare professionals — so speaking up about any physical issues can open up a world of treatment possibilities.

The Bottom Line

Facial changes due to HIV/AIDS are much more common than most people realize — but luckily, they’re also very treatable when professional help is sought early on. If you notice anything unusual happening with your face or skin while living with the virus, speak up right away; doing so will give you the best chance at avoiding major complications down the road.



Author: Claudia

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