HIV Symptoms in Men: Can It Cause a Rash on the Penis

HIV Symptoms in Men: Can It Cause a Rash on the Penis?

What Is A Rash On the Penis?

Rash on the penile skin is one of the most common signs of HIV infection. There are different types of rashes. Some rashes are easily treated while others may not go away even after treatment.

The type of rash depends upon the stage of HIV infection. However, there are some general rules which can be followed when diagnosing a rash on the penile skin:

A red spot or pimple on the genitals is considered as a rash.

There are two kinds of rashes – primary and secondary (see picture). Primary rashes occur before the virus has been able to infect the body. Secondary rashes appear later after the virus has infected your body.

Primary rashes are generally caused by other viruses such as herpes simplex virus (HSV), human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B/C. These viruses cause lesions called vesicles in the genital area. Viruses can enter through broken skin, mucous membranes or open sores on the genitals.

Secondary rashes are caused by viruses, fungi, bacteria and parasites that enter through the genitals. They can also be caused by contact with infected blood.

What Is The Herpes Virus?

Herpes simplex virus or HSV causes genital herpes. It is a common infection and spreads via skin-to-skin contact. Unlike some other STIs, you cannot catch it from toilet seats, towels, swimming pools or sharing cups or clothing.

HSV causes painful blisters, ulcers or sores on and around the genital area. You may also experience flu-like symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, fever and headaches. Sores and blisters do not always appear but when they do they can be difficult to treat.

You can pass on the virus even if you have no visible sores or blisters present. The virus travels along nerve pathways to the skin where it becomes active again.

What Are the Symptoms of Genital Herpes?

The most obvious symptom is a painful blister or ulcer on the genital area. The ulcers usually start as small red spots that turn into white, painful sores after a few days. These sores usually crust over and then break open again before forming a scab. During this time you will experience flu-like symptoms such as headaches, swollen lymph nodes and fever.

It is possible to have genital herpes and not know you have it. Sometimes the first outbreak is so mild that you don’t notice the symptoms. The virus can still pass on to your partner even if you have no visible sores or blisters.

How Is Genital Herpes Spread?

You can catch genital herpes from skin-to-skin contact with an infected area of the skin. This includes vaginal, groin or buttocks contact. The virus can also infect your mouth, lips and eyes if you touch a sore.

You cannot catch genital herpes from toilet seats, towels or bath tubs. It is not spread through the air so you cannot catch it by breathing in the same room as an infected person.

How Is It Treated?

There is no cure for herpes but medication can reduce the symptoms and prevent the virus from becoming active. The most common treatment is called aciclovir. This prevents the herpes virus from replicating and spreading. The medication can reduce the duration, frequency and severity of outbreaks but will not get rid of the virus altogether.

When Should You Call Your Doctor?

Some STIs do not show any symptoms for months or years after you have caught them. It is vital that you call your doctor or visit a clinic as soon as possible if you think you have an STI.

Sources & references used in this article:

Syphilis mimicking Reiter’s syndrome in an HIV-positive patient by M Kishimoto, A Mor, AM Abeles, G Solomon… – The American journal of …, 2006 – Elsevier

Efficacy of secondary isoniazid preventive therapy among HIV-infected Southern Africans: time to change policy? by …, EL Corbett, RJ Hayes, RE Chaisson, KM De Cock… – Aids, 2003 – journals.lww.com

Crusted (” Norwegian”) scabies in a specialist HIV unit: successful use of ivermectin and failure to prevent nosocomial transmission. by …, J Holton, N Levell, R Miller, KM De Cock – Sexually Transmitted …, 1996 – sti.bmj.com

HIV infection and silicosis: the impact of two potent risk factors on the incidence of mycobacterial disease in South African miners by …, BG Williams, D Mulder, RJ Hayes, KM De Cock – Aids, 2000 – journals.lww.com