You are here: Section 4 ยป 4.3.12 Download Full Resource PDF [2.5MB] Download PDF Version

4.3.12 – Functions of the skin and related structures

Children with HIV are very prone to skin problems including infections, inflammation and neoplasms of the skin.16 All health care workers must be aware of the possible skin complaints that children may have and should refer them for medical attention as soon as a problem is noted. As with many other conditions children with a greater degree of immune suppression are at greater risk of having skin problems.

Skin infections are the most common clinical skin problem. Skin infections may be fungal, viral or bacterial. Scabies is extremely common in HIV infected children and is caused by the mite Scabies sarcoptei. Scabies is spread very easily through contact with an infected individual. It presents as itchy areas with small papules. It usually starts on the hands and wrists.

Non-infectious skin problems include reactions to medication and dermatis.

Potential causes of these impairments and rehabilitation interventions are shown in the table below.

Table 4.3.12: Clinical Aspects of Skin Problems

Impairments Possible Etiologies Implications for Rehabilitation
Skin problems



  • Rehabilitation workers must be aware of skin conditions and should refer children with any new problems to a doctor for assessment.
  • Care should be taken with infection control until the cause of the skin condition is known.
  • Use gloves when handling children with scabies and skin infections
  • Wash hands thoroughly after every treatment session
  • Place a clean sheet over mats or plinths for each patient

16Blauvelt A. 2005. Cutaneous diseases. In: Textbook of Pediatric HIV Care. Edited by Zeichner S and Read J. Cambridge