What is Pityriasis Rosea?

Of course…the Wikipedia Version is always helpful.

And…From Web-Md, below:

What is pityriasis rosea?

Pityriasis rosea (say “pih-tih-RY-uh-sus ROH-zee-uh”) is a common skin problem that causes a rash. Although it can occur at any age, it is seen most often in those between the ages of 10 and 35.

Pityriasis rosea is usually harmless. But it can cause serious problems in pregnant women.

What causes pityriasis rosea?

The cause of pityriasis rosea is unknown. Unlike many other skin conditions, it is not an allergic reaction or caused by a fungus or bacteria. Some experts think it may be caused by a virus. But neither signs of a virus (such as its genetic material) nor symptoms of a viral infection (such as a fever) are found in everyone with pityriasis rosea.

What are the symptoms?

Pityriasis rosea causes a rash.

      • The rash often begins with a single, round or oval, pink patch that is scaly with a raised border (herald patch). The size of the patch ranges from 2 cm (0.8 in.) to10 cm (3.9 in.). The larger patches are more common.
      • Days to weeks later, salmon-colored, 1 cm (0.4 in.) to 2 cm (0.8 in.) oval patches appear in batches on the abdomen, chest, back, arms, and legs. Patches sometimes spread to the neck but rarely to the face.
      • Patches on the back are often vertical and angled to form a “Christmas tree” or “fir tree” appearance.
      • The rash does not cause itching in 25% of people who have pityriasis rosea. For 50% of people, the itch is mild to moderate. And for 25% of people, the itch is severe.1
      • The rash usually lasts 6 to 8 weeks, but it can last up to several months.

        Herald Patch

        This is how Pityriasis Rosea usually starts.

Pityriasis Rosea

This is how Pityriasis Rosea ends up.

The rash may take other forms. Rounded bumps (papular rash) may be seen in young children, pregnant women, and people with dark skin. Blisters (vesicular rash) may be seen in infants and young children. In some people, the herald patch may not appear, or two herald patches may appear close together.

Before the herald patch appears, you may feel tired and as though you have a cold. You may have a headache, nausea, sore throat, and loss of appetite.

The pityriasis rosea rash is similar to the rash seen in other skin conditions, including ringworm of the skin, tinea versicolor, eczema, and psoriasis.

A rash similar to pityriasis rosea also can be caused by syphilis and by certain medicines such as antibiotics.

If you get a rash on the palms of your hands or the soles of your feet, see your doctor. This can be a sign of something more serious than pityriasis rosea.

How is pityriasis rosea diagnosed?

Your doctor will diagnose pityriasis rosea by looking at the rash. Diagnosis can be difficult when only the herald patch is visible, because the condition is often mistaken for ringworm or eczema at this time. After the rash appears, diagnosis is generally clear.

If the diagnosis is unclear, your doctor may do a potassium hydroxide (KOH) test to make sure the rash is not caused by a fungal infection. A skin sample may be taken from the infected area and examined under the microscope (biopsy). If the diagnosis is unclear in a sexually active person, a test for syphilis is often done.

How is it treated?

Pityriasis rosea will usually go away in 6 to 8 weeks without treatment. If the rash itches, you may wish to use skin lotions and lubricants to soothe itching. If symptoms are severe, anti-inflammatory medicines such as corticosteroids may be used to relieve itching and reduce the rash. Some people may try other medicines, such as antifungals, because the rash looks like ringworm. But because pityriasis rosea is not caused by a fungus, these medicines are not effective.

Exposing the rash to sunlight may make it go away more quickly. But exposing your skin to the sun too long can result in sunburn and increase your risk of skin cancer.

If the rash lasts more than 3 months, contact your doctor.

To relieve itching at home:

  • Keep the itchy area cool and moist. Apply washcloths soaked in ice water. But remember that repeated wetting and drying will actually dry out your skin. Dry skin can make itching caused by a rash worse.
  • Avoid taking hot showers or baths. Keep the water as cool as you can tolerate.
  • Try an oatmeal bath, such as Aveeno Colloidal Oatmeal bath, to help relieve itching. You may also wrap 1 cup of oatmeal in a cotton cloth and boil as you would to cook oatmeal. Use this as a sponge and bathe in cool water without soap.
  • Try an over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream for small itchy areas. Use the cream very sparingly on the face or genitals.
    Note: Do not use the cream on children younger than age 2 unless your doctor tells you to. Do not use in the rectal or vaginal area in children younger than age 12 unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Try an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as chlorpheniramine maleate (Chlor-Trimeton) or diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Don’t give antihistamines to your child unless you’ve checked with the doctor first.
  • Apply a moisturizer or calamine lotion to the skin while it is damp.
  • Wear cotton or silk clothing. Avoid wearing wool and acrylic fabrics next to your skin.
  • Use as little soap as possible. Use gentle soaps, such as Basis, Cetaphil, Dove, or Oil of Olay. Avoid deodorant soaps when you have a rash.

18 Responses to “What is Pityriasis Rosea?”

  1. SRB says:

    What kind of serious problem it could couses in pregnant woman? Thanks in adwance!

  2. Ani says:

    thank you for your response,I feel relax now

  3. Julie says:

    A few days a go I had a few spots come up in one of my armpits. I then had a large patch of red round raised rash show up on my arm. Since then, everyday I get more and more spots. They start out small but then cluster together. The only spot that itches is the one on my arm. Now, I have been having skin issues since October of 2012. I had white patches form all over each arm. It was like I lost the pigmentation in those areas. I went to the dr. and he said it was fungal. he started me on an antifungal cream and then grifulvin in tablet form. My white spots do not itch at all, but they are not going away. Now I have these red areas all over my back, torso, and arms. Is there any coorelation between the white spots and the red spots, or was this coincidental? Any info to help me would be great!

    • Greg says:

      The same thing happened to me when I was first diagnosed in 2001, Julie. I had two spots that were white and my dermatologist prescribed an anti-fungal cream for them, and obviously nothing was prescribed for the PR since there was no itching, harm, or contagiousness. I do still have marks noticeable from the fungal infections, but my PR cleared up within a month without a trace…And back again now for round 2

  4. Natalie says:

    I just found out yesterday that my 11 year old daughter has PR. The doctor did not give us any recommendations for stopping the spread. She is not itching but I am afraid that it will leave marks on her honey brown skin. Could someone give me some advice on how to stop the spread of something to help with scarring? A year ago she was diagnosed with abnormal white blood cells so I assume this may have something to do with it as well.

    • PityriasisRoseaPictures.net says:

      So sorry to hear about your little one, Natalie. Since white blood cells make up the immune system and PR is most likely a virus, I think your assumption is correct. You shouldn’t have to worry about any type of scarring or even notice she had PR once it’s all over. The spots/marks may stay around a little longer because of her darker complexion, but should fade form existence with time as well. Just make sure she doesn’t scratch so much to cause scarring if it’s very itchy. Your best bet for the quickest remedy is to follow the treatments and remedies found on the “Treatments/Remedies for PR” page above.
      Tell her to hang in there and just assure her that it will pass and she will be back to normal in no time. Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

  5. Louise says:

    I’m so glad I found this site! I’ve been really anxious about this for weeks, not knowing what was wrong with me – 2 doctors thought it was ringworm (because the herald patch on my neck resembled it), however, today my own gp finally diagnosed it as PR.

    it doesn’t itch too bad to be honest but just looks unsightly. I’m mostly just glad though that I can’t pass it on to other people, all the time I thought it was a fungal infection I’ve been paranoid (not to mention trying to treat it in completely the wrong way!).

    Good to hear I’m not alone with this.

    • PityriasisRoseaPictures.net says:

      You’re definitely NOT alone, Louise. Thanks for stopping by and sharing. Give a thorough ready to the info on our Treatments & Remedies page above [as well as the many comments at the bottom of that page] for the quickest path to recovery. Hope you find something helpful there. Stay healthy, my friend.

      • Louise says:

        Thanks so much for the advice – I’m taking the Erythromycin my gp prescribed, as well as trying the roobios tea and vitamin d supplements to try and boost my immune system.

        Ideally I would like to try using a sun bed but am a bit concerned because my skin is quite pale and I have a number of moles – I might have to see how much worse this gets first!

        One question I have is whether it is common for the herald patch to fade and then come back again? Mine seemed to go fairly pale last week but seems quite red again this week – is this normal?

        • PityriasisRoseaPictures.net says:

          Sure thing, Louise. Yes, if you have a fair complexion you need to be careful with the sun bed. Probably no more than 5 minute increments. Just listen to your body. If you’re burning at all, I wouldn’t recommend it. Start with no more than 5 minutes of exposure.
          Yes…the herald patch (and all the other patches for that matter) will tend to come and go during your stint of PR. It’s a sneaky rash…just when you think it’s almost over and your spots are all gone, it will pop up again in a different place. Try not to lose hope though…it WILL go away completely eventually. Just don’t be alarmed if the spots come and go a few times. Hang in there, and thanks for stopping by again and sharing. Sounds like you have a good grasp on it…stay the course! 😉

          • Louise says:

            Just wanted to come back and share – after 2 weeks of taking Erythromycin, taking Vitamin D supplements, washing in H&S and drinking Rooibos tea it appears that the rash is much improved and has faded significantly.

            Obviously I know there is always the risk that it could flare up again, but I think doing these things has really helped to alleviate my symptoms over the past few weeks – hope that might help other people?

          • PityriasisRoseaPictures.net says:

            Thanks for checking in again, Louise…much appreciated. This type of info is very helpful to others suffering from this horrendous rash. So glad you’ve gotten it to a manageable state. Happy holidays to you and yours.

  6. Ely says:

    I think I might have this kind of rashes. But I’m afraid to go to the doctor. I wish the listed treatments here will help me.

    • PityriasisRoseaPictures.net says:

      Your best bet for speedy recovery is to take a comprehensive approach. Get good rest, clean up your diet (if necessary), minimize stress and then add the immuney system boosting supplements found on the “PR Treatment and Remedies” tab above.

      Hang in there…it will pass and you WILL be back to normal when it’s over.

  7. Fran says:

    I think this is what a family member had about 4 years ago. Since then he still gets a rash around his neck and shoulders from time to time, especially if he gets sweaty. Stress makes it worse and he also suffers from rhinitus, which is worse when the rash appears. Nobody seems to be able to help! I am going to try aromatherapy treatment.

    • PityriasisRoseaPictures.net says:

      Please let us know your results with aromatherapy. I’m typically a skeptic of such things but, whatever works for you. Best of luck Fran…thanks for stopping by and sharing.

  8. Debby says:

    Ok it sounds like I am doing everything right according to the above “How is it treated” I am four months into this!!! Just waiting for nice weather so I can get out in the sun!

    • PityriasisRoseaPictures.net says:

      Yup…the UV rays really do help in mitigating the rash. They won’t make it completely go away but, they certainly minimize the spread. Best of luck to you, Debby.

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