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.

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.

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Last Reviewed:
October 08, 2016
Last Updated:
August 28, 2017