Pityriasis Rosea – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment
What is pityriasis rosea?
Pityriasis rosea is a benign skin rash. This skin condition begins with a single red and slightly scaly area, followed by a pattern of smaller lesions. This rash mostly affects young adults, although it can affect anyone at any age. It is harmless and usually resolves on its own in a few weeks.
What causes pityriasis rosea?
Viral infection is believed to cause pityriasis rosea. It occurs most often in the fall and spring. Pityriasis rosea is not infectious and does not spread from one person to another.
What are the symptoms of pityriasis rosea?
Pityriasis rosea attacks most often last 4 to 8 weeks. Sometimes, symptoms may go away in 3 weeks, at other times they last as long as 12 weeks.
The rash starts with a single large patch called a herald patch. After several days, more skin rashes will appear on the chest, back, arms, and legs.
Pityriasis rosea rashes:
- Are often pink or pale red
- Are oval in shape
- Maybe scaly
- May follow lines in the skin or appear in a “Christmas tree” pattern
- May itch
How is pityriasis rosea diagnosed?
Most often, your doctor can diagnose pityriasis rosea simply by looking at the rash. In rare cases, the doctor may order the following tests to confirm the diagnosis:
- A blood test (to rule out a form of syphilis, which causes a similar rash)
- A skin biopsy to confirm the diagnosis
How is pityriasis rosea treated?
Usually, pityriasis rosea does not require treatment. The rash may go away on its own in a few weeks. The doctor may recommend gentle bathing, mild lubricants or creams, or mild hydrocortisone creams to soothe your skin.
If symptoms and itching persist, steroid cream, antihistamines and in rare cases antiviral drugs can help.
Moderate sun exposure or ultraviolet (UV) light treatment may help to get rid of the rash quickly.
This feature is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the expert guidance of a doctor. We advise seeing a doctor if you have any health concerns.