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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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Skin problems
Jul 9, 2006

I have recently discovered that I am extremely photosensitive and am wondering if the combovir and viracept are the culprits. Even in brief exposures to the sun, vesicles (small fluid filled bumps) appear all over my arms and neck. I use an SPF 50 sunblock and that doesn't even seem to curb the outbreak. Is it the medication and if so, what can I do to curb this outbreak? Giving up being outside is not an option in any season for me.

Response from Dr. Henry

Good question. Each of the 3 HIV medications that you are taken can occasionally cause skin problems though no one drug jumps out as the most likely cause of a photosensitivity. More often that is due to a sulfa drug or other drug often used at the same time as antiretroviral medications. HIV can cause a range of skin rashes though new photosensitivity would be unusual in my experience. Immune reconstitution seen within months of starting effective HIV medications can also make the skin more reactive. If any reader has any further insights into this problem please post. KH

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