There are many conditions and aliments that can cause skin rashes. One of the less discussed is Hepatitis C. This article explores the signs and symptoms of the possible reason for your rash.
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Could My Skin Rash be Hepatitis C?
The Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is a highly infectious condition that largely attacks the liver in sufferers.
If left untreated it can lead to liver failure which can as a direct result affect our immune system and our digestive system
Another lesser known effect of HCV ( and some of its medical treatments) is that it can also cause a skin rash
In the US alone it’s been reported that over 3 million people have HCV(1) .
Another fact is that over 75% of all cases again in the US are senior citizens.
Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
HCV generates a number of symptoms, most associated with a swelling of the liver. It can also cause other issues. The most significant 5 are:
- Jaundice ( shows up as yellowing of the eyes and the skin)
- Darker urine and pale stools
- High temperature
- Abdominal Pain
Hepatitis C can also effect the brain, causing cognitive problems such as brain fog, forgetfulness and other neuropsychiatric symptoms
It’s not uncommon of the infection is allowed to take hold for other symptoms to appear too, including a red, itchy skin rash.
A common skin rash related to hepatitis C is called urticaria
Urticaria and HCV
Acute Hepatitis C is classed as a short term infection, ie: one that lasts no longer than 6 months (2)
As the infection runs its course its not uncommon to experience a red- itchy rash on the body, this is a sign of the body fighting to get rid of the virus..
The most common form of rash associated with cases of HCV is called Urticaria, it presets itself as a widespread, red, itchy rash on the skin.
It can also cause the skin to swell, and these red, itchy outbreaks can last anything from a couple of hours, to a few days.
It can also be described as the sort of rash that may appear as part of an allergic acid.
A Skin Rash Should Not be Ignored
There is a good reason why a rash of this type should never be ignored, Hepatitis C can transition into a longer term, more chronic condition, this is when severe liver damage can occur.
Your skin can show signs that your liver is damaged, the kinds of things to look for are:
- Severe itching in one spot
- Redness of the skin
- The appearance of spider veins
- Extremely dry skin patches
- Patches on the skin that turn brown
Sufferers can also start to suffer more extreme symptoms that include swellings in the stomach and even bleeding that will not stop – Do Not Ignore Any Unexplained Rash.
HCV Treatment Can Also Cause Rashes
Tis is the frustrating part of hepatitis C treatments, the cure can also cause you to have she effects such as skin rashes. This is most commonly experienced when treatments are injected into the skin. The injection site developing a rash as an irritated response to the treatment.
Hydrocortisone creams and even cold packs (3) and compresses can help to alleviate the th redness and itchy feeling as the rash subsides.
If you start to see rashes appear that are not at the injeption site, you MUST see your doctor as soon as possible
How To Recognize HCV Skin Rashes
Rashes are notoriously difficult to diagnose due to the many causes out there, with Hepatitis C, an appearance of a new rash can be worrying and suspicious. It’s helpful therefore to know where it’s likely to appear on the body.
Injection sites are the most likely part of the skin to develop a rash, they usually tend to appear on the torso, arms and chest.
If the HCV becomes severe, rashes can also appear on the face, in a few cases causing patients lips to swell.
How To Treat Rashes Caused By Hepatitis C
If the HCV infection is acute, the best way reduce the rash is by taking antihistamines and regularly apply topical creams or ointments to relieve the itching.
Chronic cases of Hep C can be more challenging to the doctors regarding treatment.
If the rash is found to be caused by medication used to treat the virus, then doctors will usually look to change the medication.
You can also reduce the rash and its intensity by taking some of these precautions:
- Stay out of the sun
- Take cool or lukewarm baths or showers
- Applying a moisturizing skin lotion straight after bathing
- Use a good unscented, moisturizing soap or cleansing product.
Keep An Eye On Your Skin Rashes And Report Any Changes
When thinking about Hepatitis C you need to consider not only it’s own ability to cause the appearance of a rash but also consider the effects of the actual treatments prescribed by the doctors.
However, let’s not forget that a rash can appear on your skin for another variety of reasons, mostly not related to the virus whatsoever.
It’s extremely difficult sometimes to self diagnose a skin rash, and to be honest, it’s probably wise to not try and do just that.
The most sensible thing to do is to go and see your doctor or skin specialist, let them have good look and only then, can they diagnose the cause of your skin rash and accurately determine a course of treatment.