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.
The cause of pityriasis rosea is unknown. It may be caused by viruses or certain medicine, such as antibiotics or heart medications.
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.
Mild to severe itching of the lesions—not typically itchy, but 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.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in skin disorders. A specialist can usually diagnose pityriasis rosea by looking at your rash.
- Blood tests
- Skin scrape
- Skin biopsy —removal of a sample of skin tissue from the lesion to test for pityriasis rosea
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 to relieve itching and inflammation caused by pityriasis rosea include:
- Antihistamine pills
- Steroid pills
- Steroid creams or ointments
- Calamine lotion
- 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.
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.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods
- Review Date: 09/2012 -
- Update Date: 00/92/2012 -