Did you know that there are STDs that can cause dry skin? While STDs mostly affect your reproductive and urinary health, they can also cause skin-related issues. For example, dry and painful bumps called cold sores are a telltale sign of oral herpes. While dry and itchy skin may develop due to multiple factors, there is a slight possibility it may be the symptom of an undiagnosed sexually transmitted disease (STD). In this article, you will read about STDs, their symptoms, other possible causes of dry skin, and when to visit a doctor.
In This Article
What Are STDs?
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, gonorrhea, 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 chlamydia 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.
Symptoms Of STDs
- Painful urination
- Weight loss
- 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
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.
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.
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
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.
You can develop dry skin due to multiple factors such as jock itch or psoriasis. But if you experience dry skin along with other symptoms such as fever and weight loss, chances are you may have an STD. Herpes, HIV-AIDS, and syphilis are some of the STDs that cause dry skin. To be sure of the cause, consulting a doctor is the best thing to do. Getting yourself tested for STDs twice a year can go a long way in keeping yourself safe.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Can hsv1 cause skin rash?
Yes. Herpes simplex virus or oral herpes can result in skin rashes near your mouth.
Does HPV weaken your immune system?
Yes. Human papillomavirus can affect the immune system which can lead to the development of cervical lesions (8).
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- Awareness and Knowledge of Sexually Transmitted Infections among Secondary School Adolescents in Ado Ekiti South Western Nigeria
- Knowledge about sexually transmitted diseases among primary health care providers
- Eczema herpeticum
- Secondary Syphilitic Lesions
- Prevalence of cutaneous disorders in a population of HIV-infected patients. Southwestern France 1996. Groupe d\’Epidémiologie Clinique du SIDA en Aquitaine
- Prevalence and factors associated with dry skin in HIV infection: the FRAM study
- Effect of human papillomavirus infection on the immune system and its role in the course of cervical cancer