Pityriasis Rosea

What is Pityriasis Rosea?

Pityriasis Rosea is a skin condition that is extremely common and usually relatively harmless. This skin condition causes a rash which usually occurs in red skin patches. The largest patch may sometimes be referred to as the mother patch or herald patch and any other, smaller ones may be referred to as daughter patches.

Pityriasis rosea usually first develops on the back, abdomen, or chest. The dermatological condition often affects people between the ages of 10 years old and 35 years old. However, it can occur at any age. Pregnant women are also prone to developing pityriasis rosea.

There are no known causes of pityriasis rosea. Doctors have found that the condition is not related to an allergy and is not caused by fungi or bacteria. Pityriasis rosea may be related to viral infections but a direct link has not necessarily been determined.

What are the Symptoms of Pityriasis Rosea?

The main symptom of pityriasis rosea is the skin rash. The first visible sign is a large pinkish or reddish patch with a slightly raised edge around the border. That initial patch is usually the only one for a period of a few weeks and can feel scaly to the touch. Smaller patches then develop and branch out from that initial mother patch.

There may also be symptoms before that first patch develops including fevers, fatigue, and even headaches. A sore throat may also be associated with the development of pityriasis rosea as well as nausea and appetite loss. Sometimes, the rash associated with pityriasis rosea can cause itching which may range from mild to severe in nature.

Pityriasis Rosea Causes

Doctors aren’t sure what the cause is for Rosea but one school of thought is that Rosea is the herpes virus six or seven. However, Rosea isn’t associated with other kinds of herpes virus. Most cases occur in children and young adults between ten and thirty-five years of age. The time of year can also influence the odds of getting Rosea. The condition shows up most often in the spring and fall. There isn’t a racial sign as to who is more likely to get Rosea. The mode of transmission is suspected to be through respiratory contact but the exact reason is unknown. Most people don’t notice any symptoms except for the rash itself. For others, itching and flu-like symptoms are experienced. The itching can increase from exercise, hot showers, and too much stress. The itching seems to increase with stress levels and might increase by over heating the body through exercise or a hot shower.

How is Pityriasis Rosea Treated?

Pityriasis rosea is a skin condition that often clears up on its own after anywhere from 6 weeks to several months. However, sometimes when the rash causes a great deal of discomfort or is persistent, treatment is required.

Treatment can include over-the-counter anti-itch creams and ointments or more potent prescription corticosteroid creams. Sometimes, a doctor may prescribe antiviral medications like acyclovir to help suppress whatever virus is causing the rash. Light therapy (exposure to UV light) can also sometimes help with a pityriasis rosea rash.

Pityriasis Rosea Prevention

Because the exact cause of Rosea is unknown, there isn’t a known prevention. Treatment of Rosea is to manage the symptoms. Blood tests are usually done to make sure the rash is Rosea and not another illness that sometimes mimics Rosea. Rosea usually goes away by itself after six to nine weeks; however, in rare cases, it can take as long as twelve weeks for the rash to disappear. Once you get this condition, it usually doesn’t come back. In this way, it appears to be similar to chickenpox, whereby contraction acts as a form of inoculation in future. Although the cause is not known, it is always best to pursue a healthy diet and lifestyle in order to bolster your immune system. Other forms of prevention include for the worsening of the symptoms of itching. Medication can be given to soothe this symptom, while home remedies for itching include using simple moisturizers, steroid creams, antihistamines like Benadryl in oral or liquid form, and natural sunlight for ten to fifteen minutes a day.

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Last Reviewed:
October 08, 2016
Last Updated:
January 02, 2018