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Pityriasis Rosea

Definition

Pityriasis rosea is a common skin rash. It occurs most often in children and young adults. The rash is scaly and reddish-pink. It may first appear on the back, stomach, or chest. The rash can then spread to the neck, arms, and legs.

The rash may last for several months. It will usually go away on its own. Talk to your doctor if you have a widespread rash.

Causes

The cause of pityriasis rosea is unknown. It may be caused by viruses or a certain medicine, such as antibiotics or heart medications.

Risk Factors

Pityriasis rosea is more likely to occur in the spring and fall.

Symptoms

If you have any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to pityriasis rosea. They may be caused by other health conditions. Symptoms associated with pityriasis rosea include:

  • Feeling ill—You may feel ill like you are getting a cold just before the rash appears.
  • Having a herald patch—often the first lesion to appear.
    • Large, oval, scaly patch that is often on the back, stomach, armpit, or chest.
    • Lesions found on the back tend to form a “Christmas tree” pattern.
  • More lesions that appear after several days
  • Lesions are not typically itchy, but mild to severe itching may occur in some patients
    • Itching worsens when the body overheats.
    • This may happen during physical activities or after taking a hot shower.
  • Skin redness or inflammation
  • Feeling tired and achy

If symptoms last for more than three months, contact your doctor.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Pityriasis rosea can usually diagnosed by looking at your rash.You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in skin disorders if the rash is difficult to identify.

Some tests may be done to eliminate the possibility of other conditions. This rash may look like other skin disorders such as eczema , ringworm , syphilis , and psoriasis . These tests may include:

Skin Biopsy
Skin proceedure
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Treatment

There is no cure for pityriasis rosea. The rash will usually go away on its own. Treatment may be able to relieve some of the symptoms, such as itching. Treatment options include the following:

Medications

Medications to relieve itching and inflammation caused by pityriasis rosea include:

  • Antihistamine pills
  • Steroid pills
  • Steroid creams or ointments
  • Calamine or other soothing lotions
  • Acyclovir

Other Treatments

  • Avoid physical activities that can raise your body temperature. This can make itching worse.
  • Avoid hot baths or showers. Oatmeal baths may also soothe the itching.
  • Sunlight or medical treatment with artificial ultraviolet light may speed the healing process. Be careful to avoid sunburn.

Prevention

There is no known way to prevent pityriasis rosea. It does not spread from person to person. It is not likely to recur. This rash does not leave permanent marks. However, some people with dark skin may have some skin discoloration. This will usually fads with time.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
  • Review Date: 12/2013 -
  • Update Date: 01/14/2014 -
  • American Academy of Dermatology

    http://www.aad.org

  • American Osteopathic College of Dermatology

    http://www.aocd.org

  • The College of Family Physicians of Canada

    http://www.cfpc.ca

  • Health Canada

    http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

  • American Academy of Dermatology. Pityriasis rosea. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/m---p/pityriasis-rosea. Accessed August 6, 2012.

  • American Family Physician. Pityriasis rosea. American Family Physician website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/pityriasis-rosea.printerview.all.html. Accessed August 6, 2012.

  • American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Pityriasis rosea. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aocd.org/skin/dermatologic%5Fdiseases/pityriasis%5Frosea.html. Accessed August 6, 2012.

  • DynaMed Editorial Team. Pityriasis rosea. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated January 2011. Accessed August 6, 2012.