Indian J Sex Transm Dis Indian J Sex Transm Dis
Official Publication of the Indian Association for the Study of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Indian J Sex Transm Dis
The Journal | Search | Ahead Of Print | Current Issue | Archives | Instructions | Subscribe | Login    Users online: 493   Home Email this page Print this page Bookmark this page Decrease font size Default font size Increase font size

  Table of Contents  
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 42  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 150-153

Onycho-mucocutaneous syndrome secondary to human immunodeficiency virus disease

Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprosy, Yenepoya Medical College, Yenepoya (Deemed to be) University, Mangalore, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission10-Nov-2018
Date of Decision25-Nov-2018
Date of Acceptance04-Feb-2021
Date of Web Publication27-Jul-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Manjunath M Shenoy
Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprosy, Yenepoya Medical College, Yenepoya (Deemed to be) University, Deralakatte, Mangalore - 575 018, Karnataka
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijstd.IJSTD_94_18

Rights and Permissions



Cutaneous, mucosal, and nail examination is the key to unveiling a plethora of systemic diseases. Mucocutaneous lesions directly related to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection usually present as initial manifestations of immune deficiency, of which few lesions act as predictors of an immunocompromised state. Here, we report two cases who presented with onycho-mucocutaneous symptoms which raised the suspicion of and invariably led to the diagnosis of an underlying immunosuppression secondary to HIV infection.

Keywords: Extensive dermatophytosis, human immunodeficiency virus, onycho-mucocutaneous syndrome, oral hairy leukoplakia, proximal subungual onychomycosis

How to cite this article:
Madhuri B, Hegde SP, Shenoy MM. Onycho-mucocutaneous syndrome secondary to human immunodeficiency virus disease. Indian J Sex Transm Dis 2021;42:150-3

How to cite this URL:
Madhuri B, Hegde SP, Shenoy MM. Onycho-mucocutaneous syndrome secondary to human immunodeficiency virus disease. Indian J Sex Transm Dis [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Dec 7];42:150-3. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Skin, hair, and nail are an index to underlying systemic disease. Mucocutaneous lesions directly related to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection usually present as initial manifestations of immune deficiency. More than 90% of HIV-infected individuals show cutaneous manifestations of HIV during their disease course.[1] The diagnosis of these dermatoses might pose a challenge since these patients present with atypical manifestations. Here, we report two cases who presented with onycho-mucocutaneous symptoms which aided in clinching the diagnosis of HIV infection and early initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART).

   Case Reports Top

Case 1

A 50-year-old male, forest security personnel, presented with generalized pruritic rashes since 1 year. Lesions initially began over the lower abdomen and later became generalized. He had used multiple topical and oral steroids for the same. For the past 1 month, he developed fever, breathlessness, and chest pain for which he sought medical attention.

Cutaneous examination revealed multiple confluent erythematous scaly plaques distributed symmetrically over the trunk and extremities, with few areas having well-defined margins. Multiple pearly white umbilicated papules were present over the forehead and bi-temporal areas. Oral mucosa showed whitish plaques on the dorsal aspect of tongue, which on rubbing revealed bleeding spots. Whitish discoloration with roughening was noticed at the proximal part of the right thumbnail [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Case 1 showing: (a) Extensive dermatophytosis; (b) Extragenital molluscum contagiosum; (c) Oral pseudomembranous candidiasis; (d) Proximal subungual onychomycosis of right thumbnail

Click here to view

Based on the clinical features, a provisional diagnosis of exfoliative dermatitis due to dermatophytosis with proximal subungual onychomycosis (PSO), extragenital molluscum contagiosum (MC), and chronic oral pseudomembranous candidiasis was made. Internal medicine work-up was carried out and a diagnosis of sepsis and bilateral tubercular pleural effusion was made. Ophthalmological examination revealed choroid tubercles, which were suggestive of intraocular tuberculosis.

Potassium hydroxide (KOH) mount from skin scrapings and nail clippings revealed multiple septate hyphae and fungal culture grew Trichophyton mentagrophytes, thus confirming dermatophytic infection [Figure 2].
Figure 2: Skin scrapings showing: (a) Multiple septate hyphae on potassium hydroxide mount; (b) Trichophyton mentagrophytes growth onSabouraud'sdextroseagar

Click here to view

The patient gave a history of high risk sexual behavior. Based on clinical suspicion and several dermatological indicators of HIV infection, serology for HIV was done. The patient was found to be HIV 1 positive with a CD4 count of 57cells/mm3. Venereal disease research laboratory and HBsAg were nonreactive.

We treated the patient with topical luliconazole, ART (Tenofovir + Lamivudine + Efavirenz) and intravenous fluconazole. He was also started on Category 1 antitubercular therapy. Molluscum lesions were curetted and treated topically with retinoic acid (0.05%).

Case 2

A 32-year-old male presented with complaints of spontaneous grayish-white discoloration of the right thumbnail since 1 month and painful ulcers on the genitals since 2 weeks, which were initially fluid filled. History of unprotected sexual intercourse with multiple partners was present. There was no history of prior drug intake.

On cutaneous examination, multiple erythematous to hyperpigmented, annular and polycyclic, scaly plaques were distributed over the bilateral crural folds, thighs, and trunk.

Whitish corrugated plaques over the lateral aspect of the tongue, diagnostic of oral hairy leukoplakia (OHL) was present. He had multiple, well-defined, discrete, exudative erosions over the penile shaft and glans, suggestive of herpes genitalis. Grayish-white discoloration of the proximal and lateral aspect of left thumb nail plate was indicative of PSO [Figure 3].
Figure 3: Case 2 showing: (a) Herpes genitalis; (b) Oral hairy leukoplakia over lateral aspect of tongue; (c) Proximal subungual onychomycosis of left thumb nail plate

Click here to view

Tzanck smear from the genital erosions showed multinucleated giant cells, confirming the diagnosis of herpes genitalis. Multiple branched hyphae were visualized in the KOH mount taken from skin scrapings and fungal culture grew T. mentagrophytes.

With this background of multifarious dermatoses, HIV co-infection was suspected. Serology for HIV 1 was found to be reactive.

The patient was treated with oral acyclovir and itraconazole. He reported good improvement with the same. He was further referred to integrate counseling and testing center for initiation of ART.

   Discussion Top

In a patient with HIV disease, onycho-mucocutaneous lesions often give inkling to the diagnosis. The diverse pattern of onycho-mucocutaneous infections seen in HIV is listed in [Table 1]. Dermatoses in HIV have unusual clinical presentations such as generalized involvement, aggressive clinical behavior, recalcitrance, resistance, recurrence, atypical presentation, isolation of unusual organisms, and chronicity.
Table 1: Onycho-mucocutaneous infections in human immunodeficiency virus disease[1],[2],[3],[4],[5]

Click here to view

HIV-related cutaneous manifestations serve as visual indicators of diagnosis and progression of the disease.[2] The prevalence of dermatophytosis is four times higher among HIV-infected population. Extensive dermatophytosis is a chronic fungal infection with the involvement of multiple body areas. Trichophyton rubrum and T. mentagrophytes are the most common dermatophytes isolated in HIV-infected patients.[3]

MC is usually self-limiting in immunocompetent individuals, but in HIV it behaves differently. Extragenital MC is frequently seen in adult patients with HIV, making it an indicator of an underlying immunocompromised state.[4]

The prevalence of onychomycosis in HIV infection is 15%–40% and may be directly related to the degree of immunosuppression.[5] PSO is pathognomic of HIV infection. It is mostly caused by T. rubrum, but species like T. mentagrophytes have also been isolated. It is more frequently seen when the CD4 count falls <450 cells/mm3.[6] The presence of PSO should always raise a suspicion of an underlying HIV infection.

Oral lesions are one of the earliest and important manifestations of HIV. They can be a predictor of disease progression into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Pseudomembranous candidiasis is the most common fungal infection in HIV disease and is a marker of severity of infection. A fall in CD4 count or increase in HIV viral load leads to an increased frequency of oral candidiasis. OHL, caused by Epstein-Barr virus, is almost an exclusive disease of HIV, especially in untreated, undiagnosed patients. It is a hallmark of moderate to advanced immunosuppression.[7],[8] The incidence of OHL has decreased considerably with the advent of ART.

Genital ulcer disease (GUD) is biological cofactor in the acquisition and transmission of HIV.[9] HSV-2 is a major cause of GUD. Chronic herpetic ulcers of >1 month duration are an AIDS defining illness.[10] Hence, genital examination is mandatory in every patient, suspected to have HIV infection.

   Conclusion Top

We coined the term “onycho-mucocutaneous” syndrome in HIV disease to signify the increased chances of simultaneous involvement of the skin, mucosa, and nail in an HIV infected individual. We recommend that the presence of an onycho-mucocutaneous syndrome should alert a clinician to habitually investigate for a probable milieu of immunocompromised due to HIV infection.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Uihlein LC, Saavedra AP, Johnson RA. Cutaneous Manifestations of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Disease. In: Goldsmith LA, Katz SI, Gilchrest BA, Paller AS, Leffell DJ, Wolff K, editors. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine, 8th edition; Vol. 2, New York: McGraw-Hill; 2012. p. 2439-55.  Back to cited text no. 1
Sharma A, Chaudhary D, Modi M, Mistry D, Marfatia YS. Noninfectious cutaneous manifestations of HIV/AIDS. Indian J Sex Transm Dis 2007;28:19-22.  Back to cited text no. 2
  [Full text]  
Rajesh R, Subramaniam K, Padmavathy BK. Prevalence and species profile of dermatophytes among HIV positive patients in rural referral centre. Ind J Sex Transm Dis 2006;27:70-4.  Back to cited text no. 3
Sen S, Bhaumik P. Resolution of giant Molluscum contagiosum with antiretroviral therapy. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2008;74:267-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Surjushe A, Kamath R, Oberai C, Saple D, Thakre M, Dharmshale S, et al. A clinical and mycological study of onychomycosis in HIV infection. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2007;73:397-401.  Back to cited text no. 5
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Kaur R, Kashyap B, Bhalla P. Onychomycosis - epidemiology, diagnosis and management. Indian J Med Microbiol 2008;26:108-16.  Back to cited text no. 6
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Leao JC, Ribeiro CM, Carvalho AA, Frezzini C, Porter S. Oral Complications of HIV Disease. Clinics (Sao Paulo, Brazil) 2009;64:459-70.  Back to cited text no. 7
Husak R, Garbe C, Orfanos CE. Oral hairy leukoplakia in 71 HIV-seropositive patients: Clinical symptoms, relation to immunologic status, and prognostic significance. J Am Acad Dermatol 1996;35:928-34.  Back to cited text no. 8
Barnabas RV, Celum C. Infectious co-factors in HIV-1 transmission herpes simplex virus type-2 and HIV-1: New insights and interventions. Curr HIV Res 2012;10:228-37.  Back to cited text no. 9
Bhardwaj A, Rathore BS, Sharma C, Singh G. Clinical mimicry by herpetic ulceration in a HIV positive teenager. Indian J Sex Transm Dis AIDS 2015;36:74-6.  Back to cited text no. 10


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]

  [Table 1]


Print this article  Email this article


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Article in PDF (1,296 KB)
    Citation Manager
    Access Statistics
    Reader Comments
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

     Case Reports
    Article Figures
    Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded45    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal