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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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Itchy Dry Facial, Chest and hands
Apr 30, 2013

I have extremely dry itchy skin around my face, and chest and arms. I am on lamivudine efavirenz tenofovir, I started treatment last year in Sept. My viral load is low and I am healthy. I take my meds at night (not always at the same exact time, but everyday) I am experiencing extreme itchiness. My face at times breaks out in terrible rashes. My skin tone has decreased drastically. I have very dark almost black patches and normal chocolately tone. I am extremely ashy at times and at times I am even toned. The only consistency is the extreme itchiness which will subside after 3-4 hours and at times after I have used antihistamine I have inconsistent sleep patterns and I use emulsifying ointment to shower and as a lotion. My dad has eczema but I never had any skin issues till beginning of last year when my skin started to itch extremely and my eyebrows fell off completely. My eyebrows have since grown back but I am noticing they are falling off again. I live in Cape Town, the weather is very extreme: either too cold or too hot. We are just about to begin winter.

Response from Dr. Henry

Rashes as you describe can be extremely frustrating to manage. Rashes are common in HIV+ patients. It is possible that the rash may be due to one of your HIV medications in which case a planned switch to an alternative regimen may be considered. In most cases there is another skin condition causing the problem (ie severe seborrhea, eczema, folliculities and other conditions) so a proper diagnosis (often assisted by consultation with a dermatologist/skin specialist) is key to improving treatment options. A few of the problems are worsened (darker skin) by exposure to sunlight so minimizing UV light exposure is sometimes a key measure to improve the skin color. KH

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