Overview of Hepatitis C and Skin

Connie M. Chung; Julia R. Nunley

Disclosures

Dermatology Nursing. 2006;18(5):425-430. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Hepatitis C (HCV) is the most common cause of chronic liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma, as well as the leading indication for liver transplantation in the Western world. For many patients, cutaneous manifestations may be the only, the earliest, or the most apparent sign of the underlying infection. The dermatologic manifestations of HCV infection are reviewed.

Hepatitis C (HCV) affects nearly 170 million people worldwide and between 3 and 4 million Americans; 3% and 1.8% of the respective populations (Boyer et al., 2002; Pawlotsky, 2004; Pearlman, 2004). It is the most common cause of chronic liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma, as well as the leading indication for liver transplantation in the Western world. There will be an estimated 35,000 new cases this year and the number of diagnosed cases is expected to quadruple between the years of 1990 to 2020 (Kim, 2002). Approximately 85% of those infected will develop chronic disease, 20% of whom will progress to cirrhosis over the ensuing 20 to 30 years (Pawlotsky, 2004). Once cirrhosis occurs, hepatocellular carcinoma develops at a rate of about 2% per year (Pearlman, 2004). Currently HCV accounts for 8,000 to 12,000 deaths per year in the United States, which is expected to triple by the year 2020 (Davis, Albright, Cook, & Rosenberg, 2003). Fortunately, treatment is cost effective and timely intervention may halt the natural progression of the disease and save lives (Davis et al., 2003). To do this, however, individuals with HCV infection must first be identified. For many patients, cutaneous manifestations may be the only, the earliest, or the most apparent sign of the underlying infection. Therefore, it is important to understand the dermatologic manifestations of HCV infection.

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