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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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Itchy bumps on face
Apr 9, 2003

I've been poz for 18 years and heavily treated for the past 13 years. I've read almost all of the questions others had about itchy skin, but haven't been able to fully identify with them. The bumps that appear on my face start out as very itchy, tiny spots that are not distinguished from the surrounding skin. A few minutes and a few scratches later, the spot gets bigger and discernible by touch. Give it a few more minutes and the bump is quite visible,hardened, tight, with the skin on it almost white while the area around it is red. I call it the "vicious stage." Some bumps reach the size of a dime, most are much smaller. Each bump lasts a day or two while still itching and then gets smaller and goes away after a week or so. All this while new bumps keep coming to life. There seems to be a definite cycle to all this. Sometimes the bumps resolve spontaneously. Other times there may be one or two bumps lurking around. This is one reason why my current PCP is having a difficult time diagnosing the problem. Usually, by the time I get to see him, the bumps clear up and the doc thinks I'm nuts. The bumps do get worse as the day goes on. They seem almost absent when I wake up in the morning. In the past few years the dermatologists leaned toward the diagnosis of folliculitis. Unfortunately, that was based on a skin biopsy taken from my back. The bumps on my back , however, are different than on my face. I've tried the following treatments with mediocre success: 1)Doxycycline, Zyrtec and Nizoral cream. 2)Permethrin cream 3}A variety of steroidal ointments 4}UV light treatment

The light treatment seems to be most effective, although very inconvenient (multiple trips to the clinic every week). Any advice?

Response from Dr. Henry

Wow-in my experience some HIV+ patients seem to have a hyper-reactive immune system when it comes to skin irritations (? related to high antibodies levels seen in most patients). Working with an HIV experienced and interested dermatologist is usually the most helpful thing to do (but they are few and far between). Trying anti-histamine blockage with benadryl and cimetidine seems to help some people but I would work with a dermatologist as well as your HIV specialist to keep attempting better solutions. KH

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