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Pityriasis Rosea

Pityriasis rosea is a common skin rash that occurs mainly in children and young adults. The scaly, reddish-pink rash first appears on the back, stomach, or chest. The rash can then spread to the neck, arms, and legs. Pityriasis rosea usually occurs in the spring and fall.

This condition may last for several weeks. Although the lesions usually go away on their own after 2-3 months, you should contact your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms below.

The cause of pityriasis rosea is unknown, although research suggests that it may be caused by viruses or certain medications, such as antibiotics and heart medications.

Risk Factors:
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.

The following factors increase your chance of developing pityriasis rosea:

  • Age: 10-35 (although the condition can occur at any age)
  • Time of year: the condition most often occurs in the spring and fall
If you experience any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to pityriasis rosea. These symptoms may be caused by other health conditions. If you experience any one of the symptoms below, see your physician.

Symptoms include :

  • Feeling ill
    • You may feel like you are getting a cold just before the rash appears.
  • A “herald patch”
    • A “herald patch” is the first lesion to appear. It is a large, oval, scaly lesion that typically occurs on the back, stomach, armpit, or chest. After several days, more lesions (the number and size varies from person to person) then appear on the body. Lesions found on the back tend to form a “Christmas tree” pattern.
  • Itching of the lesions (itching can be mild or severe). The rash of pityriasis rosea is typically not itchy, but itching may occur in some patients.
    • Itching worsens when the body overheats (eg, during physical activities such as jogging or after taking a hot shower).
  • Skin redness or inflammation
  • Tiredness
  • Aching

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

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Your doctor will examine your skin. You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in skin disorders (a dermatologist). A dermatologist can usually diagnosis pityriasis rosea by examining your skin. Since the condition can look like other skin disorders, including eczema, ringworm, syphilis, and psoriasis, other tests may be needed to confirm the diagnosis. Tests may include the following:
  • Blood tests
  • Scraping of the skin
  • 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 after several weeks. The symptoms of pityriasis rosea, such as itching, can be relieved using different treatments. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. 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
Other Treatments
  • Avoid demanding physical activities that can raise body temperature and worsen itching.
  • Avoid hot baths or showers to prevent the itching from worsening. Oatmeal baths may also sooth the itching.
  • Exposure to sunlight or treatment with artificial ultraviolet light (by a doctor) may speed up the healing process. But be careful to avoid sunburn.
Because the cause of pityriasis rosea is unknown, there is no way to prevent it. It is not contagious and rarely reoccurs after you have had it. There are no permanent marks left after the lesions disappear. However, some people with dark skin may experience skin discoloration that usually fades with time.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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