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How Hepatitis C Affects The Skin

How Hepatitis C Affects The Skin

People with hepatitis C often experience skin-related issues. In order to get a better understanding of the impacts of skin issues within the hepatitis C community, we conducted our 2018 Hepatitis C In America survey. Common skin conditions that patients experience include the following:

Dry skin

Around 50% of patients reported struggling with dry skin. Although dry skin is not typically a sign of a serious problem, it can be uncomfortable, and make an individual feel self-conscious. Additionally, dry skin can lead to flaking, itching, bleeding, or changes in skin color. Treatment options for dry skin include using moisturizers and avoiding extreme temperatures when possible.1

Itching (pruritus)

Nearly 50% of individuals with active hepatitis C said that they battle itching or severely itchy skin. Itchy skin is also called “pruritus”, and often accompanies dry skin. Individuals with itchy skin may have skin that looks completely normal, or they may have blisters, redness, peeling, or other signs of skin-related distress.2

Papules (small bumps on the skin)

Around 18% of patients with active hep C experience papules. Papules are small bumps on the skin that look like large pimples without pus. A papule occurs when the walls of a pore or hair follicle break due to irritation and inflammation.3

Rash

Many people with hepatitis C said that they experienced rash. Rashes can come in a variety of forms. Some rashes may cause raised bumps, others may be red patches on the skin. Some rashes may be itchy, while others might not have any symptoms at all other than a visible skin change. New or worsening rashes of any kind should be brought to the attention of a healthcare provider.

Purpura (purple spots)

Hepatitis C can also cause purpura. Purpura presents as little dark red or purple spots on the skin that don’t go away when pressure is applied. Purpuric rash is caused by small vessels bleeding into the skin. Some cases of purpura will go away on their own, while others need treatment. Your healthcare provider will determine whether or not your purpura needs treatment.4

Redness

People with hepatitis C may also experience skin redness. Red skin may be itchy, dry, splotchy, or have raised bumps. If you notice significant or worsening skin redness, contact your healthcare provider to determine its cause.

Dermatitis

Approximately 1 in 10 patients said that they have had dermatitis. Dermatitis is inflammation of the skin and comes in two main forms, contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis.5

Other skin issues

In addition to the issues listed above, around 1 in 10 patients reported having experiences with the following:

  • Swollen or inflamed skin
  • Hives
  • Skin lesions
  • Blisters
  • Lichen planus
  • Pustula

If you are experiencing skin symptoms, ask your doctor about possible treatment options, or comment below to share your experiences.

  1. Dry Skin. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-skin/symptoms-causes/syc-20353885. Published September 7, 2018. Accessed October 6, 2018.
  2. Itchy Skin (Pruritus). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/itchy-skin/symptoms-causes/syc-20355006. Published November 17, 2017. Accessed October 6, 2018.
  3. Different Kinds of Pimples. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/kids/skin/acne-pimples-zits/different-kinds-of-pimples. Accessed October 6, 2018.
  4. Thomas AE, Baird SF, Anderson J. Purpuric and petechial rashes in adults and children: Initial assessment. BMJ. 22 Mar 2016; 352; i1285. Available from: https://www.bmj.com/content/352/bmj.i1285. Accessed October 6, 2018.
  5. Dermatitis. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/4089-dermatitis. Published April 4, 2018. Accessed October 6, 2018.

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