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How are HIV skin lesions treated?

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Quick Answer

Doctors use antiretroviral drugs to manage and prevent HIV skin conditions, states John Hopkins Medicine. Antiretrovirals may trigger other conditions that require additional treatments approved by a specialist.

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Some common skin conditions related to HIV/AIDS are molluscum contagiosum, herpes viruses, Kaposi sarcoma, oral hairy leukoplakia, photodermatitis and prurigo nodularis, states Johns Hopkins Medicine. Molluscum contagiosum is highly contagious and can cause pink or flesh-colored bumps to appear on the skin. The bumps may be destroyed using laser or liquid nitrogen treatments. Herpes infections cause outbreaks of sores in the mouth or around the genitals, which are treated with antiviral medications.

Kaposi sarcoma cancer starts in the lining of lymph or blood vessels, notes Johns Hopkins Medicine. It usually results when the immune system is extremely weakened, and doctors treat it with highly active antiretroviral drugs, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

Thick, white lesions appearing on the tongue are symptoms of oral hairy leukoplakia and do not require any specific treatment, states Johns Hopkins Medicine. The lesions often clear on their own when HIV antiretroviral drugs are administered.

Protecting the skin from sun is the usual treatment for photodermatitis, which is most common in people of color, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Prurigo nodularis also appears primarily on people of color and causes crusty lumps on the skin, accompanied by severe itching. It also attacks victims of HIV/AIDS with severely weakened immune systems.

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