STDs That Cause Dry Skin: Causes, Symptoms, And More

Know your symptoms better and take necessary precautions before it is too late.

Medically reviewed by Dr. CP ThajudheenDr. CP Thajudheen, MD
By Eshna DasEshna Das, Certified Skin Care Coach  • 

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) mostly affect urinary and reproductive health and have other symptoms. However, there are several STDs that cause dry skin and other skin-related issues. This is a less-obvious symptom of an STD. For instance, if you have oral herpes, you may develop dry and painful cold sores. While rashes, dryness, itching, and irritation may indicate underlying skin conditions, it may also indicate undiagnosed STDs or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This article discusses STDs that cause dry skin and other possible causes of dry skin. Keep reading.

What Are STDs?

Doctor holding blood sample for STD test

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Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a group of diseases that are contracted through sexual contact with another person. One can also acquire STDs through shared needles, blood transfusions, and from a mother to her child during pregnancy. HIV AIDs, herpes, syphilis, gonorrheai  XA sexually transmitted bacterium infection in both males and females affecting the urethra, rectum, throat, or cervix. , chlamydia, etc. are a few STDs people may develop. They are divided into two categories: curable and incurable STDs. Diseases such as HIV-AIDs, and herpes, currently have no cure and rely on reduction and management of symptoms. STDs such as syphilis and chlamydiai  XA common sexually transmitted infection among both men and women and can permanently damage the reproductive system in women. can easily be treated by administering antibiotics. While each STD has a different set of symptoms, all of them have a few symptoms in common which we will read about in the next section.

Did You Know?
Any kind of sexual activity, not limited to intercourse, can cause STDs.

Symptoms Of STDs

Woman scratching rash on her back

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While it is possible to develop an STD without showing symptoms, here are some of the most common symptoms that are noticeable and easy to diagnose (1), (2):

  •  Painful urination
  •  Weight loss
  •  Fever
  •  Genital ulcers
  •  Genital swelling
  •  Genital discharge
  •  Body rash

Now that you know the more easily identifiable symptoms of STDs, let’s read about the STDs that cause itching and dry skin rashes.

STDs That Cause Dry Skin

  •  Herpes
Woman with herpes cold sore and dry skin

Image: Shutterstock

People diagnosed with herpes are at a higher risk of developing eczema herpeticum (3). Eczema herpeticum is a skin condition caused by the herpes simplex virus. This results in a person developing dry, itchy blisters all over their face and neck. Cold sores are another symptom of herpes characterized by red, painful blisters around the mouth. If you also experience fever and weight loss, it is strongly advised you seek medical attention immediately. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral medication to keep the symptoms under control.

Did You Know?
Herpes is the most commonly occurring STD. The use of condoms does not provide 100% protection against it.
  •  Syphilis
Woman with dry skin rash on her hands

Image: Shutterstock

The second stage of syphilis results in a person developing dry skin rashes on the hands, soles, and chest (4), (5). Syphilis is caused by the Treponema Pallidum bacterium which can be contracted through either sexual contact or vertical transmission during pregnancy. If you have other symptoms such as a sore throat or a headache, you might want to get an STD test done to be safe. Syphilis is one of the STDs that is curable today. Since the disease is caused by a bacteria, doctors administer penicillin injections to reduce the symptoms.

  •  HIV-AIDs

Studies have indicated that HIV-AIDs has been associated with various skin conditions (6). One of the symptoms that have been observed is dry skin (7). AIDs is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It attacks the person’s immune system which increases their vulnerability to several diseases. As the disease progresses, people develop other symptoms such as fever, cold, sore throat, and weight loss.

Now that you know the different STDs that cause dry skin, let’s go to the next section to understand when you should seek medical attention.

When To Consult A Doctor

If dry skin persists, it may be a sign of an undiagnosed STD. If you develop other symptoms such as fever, weight loss, and warts around the genital region, then you should get it checked by your doctor. If you are sexually active with multiple sexual partners, doing an STD screening every 6 months is the best way to be safe. Early diagnosis can help your doctor manage the disease better. While STDs might be one of the reasons, let us explore the other possible factors of dry skin as well.

Other Potential Causes Of Dry Skin

Woman with psoriosis may experience dry skin

Image: Shutterstock

Dry skin near the genitals may not always be the indication of an STD. It can also occur due to:

  •  Jock itch – Also known as tinea cruris, this develops due to a yeast infection. The symptoms that develop due to this condition are red, itchy, rashes on your inner thigh and genitals.
  •  Psoriasis – A skin condition that causes dry, flaky patches on the face, hands, soles, neck, and other parts of the body.
  •  Prurigo nodularis – This is a skin disease characterized by flesh-colored nodules with a dry top all over the body.

Other conditions like lichen simplex chronicusi  XAlso known as chronic neurodermatitis, it is a skin condition caused due to long-term itching and scratching. and seborrheic dermatitisi  XA skin condition that mainly affects the scalp leading to inflamed skin, dry patches, and stubborn dandruff. can also cause dry skin.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are acquired through sexual contact with another person. They are also contracted through shared needles or blood transfusions. While individuals may develop STDs without visible symptoms, a few identifiable symptoms include fever, weight loss, or genital ulcers. Dry skin is another symptom to look for, and STDs that cause dry skin include HIV-AIDs, herpes, and syphilis. However, dry skin may not always be a sign of an STD and may be an underlying symptom of jock itch or psoriasis. If dry skin persists, accompanied by weight loss and genital warts, consult a doctor immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do STD rashes start?

Usually, you may observe rashes or sores around your mouth or genital areas. They may spread to other parts of your body, including the palms and the bottom of your feet.

What STD causes a rash on arms?

During the secondary stage of syphilis, you may observe rashes on your arms.

Key Takeaways

  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are contracted through sexual contact with another person or blood transfusions, resulting in genital discharge, painful urination, and drastic weight loss.
  • Herpes and HIV-AIDS are some STDs that may cause dry and flaky skin.
  • Jock itch or psoriasis are some other factors that may cause dry skin.


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  1. Awareness and Knowledge of Sexually Transmitted Infections among Secondary School Adolescents in Ado Ekiti South Western Nigeria
  2. Knowledge about sexually transmitted diseases among primary health care providers
  3. Eczema herpeticum
  4. Syphilis
  5. Secondary Syphilitic Lesions
  6. Prevalence of cutaneous disorders in a population of HIV-infected patients. Southwestern France 1996. Groupe d\’Epidémiologie Clinique du SIDA en Aquitaine
  7. Prevalence and factors associated with dry skin in HIV infection: the FRAM study
  8. Effect of human papillomavirus infection on the immune system and its role in the course of cervical cancer
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