• People with hepatitis C often do not have any signs of illness.
  • People often dismiss the signs as just part of getting older.
  • The only way to know if you have hepatitis C is to have a blood test.

How long does it take for signs to appear after coming into contact with hepatitis C?

Not everyone will have signs when they get hepatitis C. For those who do, it usually takes about 2 to 12 weeks for signs to appear.

Most people with chronic hepatitis C do not feel sick until after their liver has become badly damaged. This can take many years.

 The signs can also be quite vague or mild. So they might not seem that bad. That is why it is a good idea to get tested for hepatitis C if you could have come into contact with the virus.

 Find out about how you get hepatitis C.

 Below are some of the signs of hepatitis C.

Fatigue and sleep problems

Fatigue means feeling very tired and lacking energy even after a full night’s sleep.

Sleep problems mean:

  • trouble falling asleep
  • waking up a lot
  • sleeping too much (eight hours sleep per night is generally enough for an adult).

Aches, pains and fevers

  • fever, chills
  • headaches
  • tiredness
  • muscle or joint pain

These come can go. They most often last for a week or less but sometimes longer.

Mood swings, anxiety and depression

Hepatitis C can affect the amount of certain chemicals in your body. This can cause mood swings or other changes to how you think, feel, and behave. These are:

  • feeling worried (anxiety)
  • feeling hopeless or helpless
  • becoming angry or annoyed more easily
  • lack of interest in usual activities
  • feeling sad for a long time
  • having brain fog (when it is hard to think clearly, concentrate and speak).

Feeling sick in the stomach and feeling less hungry

Hepatitis C can make you feel sick in the stomach. This can then make you feel less hungry. Although it doesn't often make you vomit, it can be very uncomfortable.

Skin rashes and itchy skin

Hepatitis C can change how your skin looks and feels. These changes can come and go. You might notice:

  • your skin feels itchy
  • blisters
  • white spots
  • tightened skin
  • spider-like blood vessels
  • web-like rashes in the skin
  • purple patches

Dry eyes

This can be due to swelling of the glands that make tears. This can feel like a gritty eye, which may look red, or crusty.  Sometimes this can make your it hard to see. It can blur your vision.

Dry mouth and mouth ulcers

Sometimes the glands that make saliva become swollen. This can make your mouth feel dry and can give you ulcers. When this happens you might also have:

  • bad breath
  • tooth decay
  • cracked lips
  • a sore mouth or throat
  • trouble eating and swallowing
  • sensitive teeth


People with hepatitis C are more likely to have type 2 diabetes than the general public. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is when the body has trouble changing sugar in the blood into energy.

 Diabetes can lead to problems such as:

  • nerve damage
  • kidney disease
  • heart disease
  • eye disorders
  • stroke
  • serious skin ulcers

Other signs of hepatitis C

There are also other, less common signs as well. You might have problems with your:

  • blood, kidneys and skin
  • lymph and nervous system

Some people with hepatitis C get jaundice. This is when you get yellow eyes and skin. This is more likely during the first 6 months. You can also get jaundice if you have severe liver scarring (cirrhosis).

Talk to your doctor if you have any of these signs. You should also talk to them if you have hepatitis C and are worried about your health.

Things to think about

Other health problems can cause the same signs as hepatitis C.

 How you feel with hepatitis C can depend on your:

  • gender
  • age
  • health history
  • eating habits
  • lifestyle
  • stress levels
  • use of alcohol or other drugs (prescribed and illegal)

Sometimes a person with hepatitis C can keep feeling well while their liver becomes more damaged. Other times, the signs of hepatitis C can make it hard to know if there are other health problems. The signs of hepatitis C don't always get worse. Sometimes you might have many signs at once.

 If you think you might have hepatitis C, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor. There is medicine you can take to cure your hepatitis C. It is safe and works well.

Find out more.

To learn more about the signs of hepatitis C you can call the National Hepatitis Infoline on 1800 437 222.

Use the following links to find out more about hepatitis C

About hepatitis C

Hepatitis C prevention

Testing for hepatitis C

Hepatitis C cures


Hepatitis C. Better Health Channel, Victorian Government Department of Health

Role of Sleep Disturbance in Chronic Hepatitis C Infection. Meghan D. Carlson, Robin C. Hilsabeck, Fatma Barakat, and William Perry. DOI 10.1007/s11901-010-0030-x

Depression and Hepatitis C, hepmag

Hepatitis C virus and neurological damage, Shilu Mathew, Muhammed Faheem, Sara M Ibrahim, Waqas Iqbal, Bisma Rauff, Kaneez Fatima, and Ishtiaq Qadri. DOI: 10.4254/wjh.v8.i12.545

Skin Manifestations of Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection, Infectious Disease Advisor, Haymarket

Hepatitis C and Ocular Surface Disease, C. Jacobi; H. Wenkel; K. Korn; F. E. Kruse

Oral Conditions Associated with Hepatitis C Virus Infection. Seyed-Moayed Alavian, Nastaran Mahboobi, Nima Mahboobi, and Peter Karayiannis. DOI: 10.4103/1319-3767.121032

Diabetes and Hepatitis C: A Two-Way Association. Sara Salehi Hammerstad, Shira Frankel Grock, Hanna J Lee, Alia Hasham, Nina Sundaram, Yaron Tomer. DOI: 10.3389/fendo.2015.00134

Hepatitis C Symptoms. NHS

Page updated 10 November 2022