Hepatitis C Community
13.4k Members
1225178 tn?1318984204

Skin issues with Ribavirin

I've read about super itchy rashes from the Riba, and very dry skin. For some reason, my oil glands on my chest, face and head seem to be stuck in over-drive. I'm only into my 4th week though. I have these red things on my chest that looked like pimples at first but then the top just came off exposing the raw underneath which stings like fire when water hits it in the shower. Is this the beginning of the rash I've been reading about? God! I hope not... couldn't imagine having this in a large area.

Anybody have any experience with this?
7 Responses
87972 tn?1322664839
Diane, I should have been more thorough with my thoughts. There’s a condition known as ‘porfiria cutanea tarda’ (PCT) that is heavily associated with HCV. It involves iron storage issues, and can be resolved rather readily by a process known as phlebotomy, or bloodletting. It presents as blisters on areas of skin that are exposed to sunlight; often arms, hands, face, chest, etc. It might be a good idea to avoid direct sunlight until this can be either ruled out or dealt with somehow; I think covering up won’t hurt, and might help a whole bunch. Here’s an article on this; if you scroll to the bottom of the page, they have a section on its association with HCV:


“PCT, Hepatitis C Virus and HIV
Because PCT is frequently associated with Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection, it is worth noting the issues involved in treating a patient with both PCT and HCV infection.
Infection with HCV is much more common than PCT, and most people with HCV do not have PCT. However, at least in some locations, as many as 80 percent of individuals with PCT are infected with HCV. Therefore, HCV needs to be added to the list of factors that can activate PCT alongside alcohol, iron and estrogens. Other hepatitis viruses are seldom implicated in PCT, and it is not known how HCV activates PCT.
There are several different viruses that cause hepatitis. A blood test for HCV infection has not been available for very long. HCV is most readily transmitted from one person to another by blood products. Although most people who are infected with HCV have a history of exposure to blood or needles contaminated with blood, in some cases it is not known how the infection was acquired. HCV (unlike the Hepatitis B Virus and HIV) is seldom transmitted by sexual contact. It is also not readily transmitted by casual contact with other people. Therefore, people infected with HCV are not hazardous unless they somehow expose others to their blood.
It is recommended that patients with PCT be tested for HCV infection. This is done by a blood test that detects antibodies to the virus. If HCV infection is found, it may not change the treatment of PCT (by phlebotomy or low-dose chloroquine). Treatment for PCT is highly successful even in patients with HCV. Therefore, it is reasonable to treat the PCT first and then look into treatment for HCV later.
There are reasons not to treat the HCV infection before treating the PCT. HCV treatment with alpha-interferon and ribavirin is available but is often not effective. Also, liver damage progresses slowly if at all in many people with HCV. However, once the PCT is in remission it is important to assess the amount of liver damage the virus has already caused and to have follow-up visits to a doctor to monitor the liver. In some cases it may be important to treat HCV infection to try and prevent progressive liver damage.”

87972 tn?1322664839
Diane, have you ever had an iron study done? Could these bumps on your chest be described as blisters?

179856 tn?1333550962
The rash is usually very itchy and more patchy than all over your body from my experience.

It might be worth heading to a dermatologist.  We always try to blame everything on hep treatment but it's not always the case.   And this doesn't really sound like ribarash to me (or I forget are you on a PI too?)
1225178 tn?1318984204
No, I haven't had an iron study done, and now that you mention it, when the skin came off it felt like busted blisters. Problem is... it is so close that I can't see them well... even with my reading glasses on. So if it is blisters... what does that mean?

Nygirl7, I think I'll take your advice too and check with the dermatologist. No, I'm not on the PIs.

179856 tn?1333550962
even with my reading glasses on. "

Ah I wish I didn't know what you meant about that  ;).........check with the derm. I just posted a thread of something that is helping me right now but since we don't know exactly what is going on with your rash - I'd hate to make it worse by accident. And I'll tell you I was in MISERY because I put it off so long - when I finally got that tube of medication in my hand and put it on the relief was so instaneous I almost cried at my stupidity for not going to the doctor sooner.
Avatar universal
PCT usually presents on the hands, arms and face and the blisters are not tiny nor does the head scrape off.  The blisters grow in size and eventually pop leaving a large open sore much like a second degree burn.   Look at Tippyclubbs pics, that is exactly what my hand looked like with PCT too.

If it were PCT Diane, I think you know because of the large blister looking areas.  
Also the skin on the hands would tear very easily, even with the slightest bump.

A dermo can check for PCT and if it is (which I don't think so) you can't do phlebotomy sessions while txing as it causes large drops in hgb.  

Have an Answer?
Top Hepatitis Answerers
317787 tn?1473362051
683231 tn?1467326617
Auburn, WA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Answer a few simple questions about your Hep C treatment journey.

Those who qualify may receive up to $100 for their time.
Explore More In Our Hep C Learning Center
image description
Learn about this treatable virus.
image description
Getting tested for this viral infection.
image description
3 key steps to getting on treatment.
image description
4 steps to getting on therapy.
image description
What you need to know about Hep C drugs.
image description
How the drugs might affect you.
image description
These tips may up your chances of a cure.
Popular Resources
A list of national and international resources and hotlines to help connect you to needed health and medical services.
Here’s how your baby’s growing in your body each week.
These common ADD/ADHD myths could already be hurting your child
This article will tell you more about strength training at home, giving you some options that require little to no equipment.
In You Can Prevent a Stroke, Dr. Joshua Yamamoto and Dr. Kristin Thomas help us understand what we can do to prevent a stroke.
Smoking substitute may not provide such a healthy swap, after all.