Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD.
Pityriasis rosea is a common
skin condition seen most frequently in children and young adults. The cause is
unknown but may be from a virus; however, it is not considered to be contagious.
The diagnosis is based on the history and physical examination. Pityriasis rosea
usually resolves within 4–6 weeks and recurrences are
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Pityriasis rosea starts off
with a small, round or oval patch with a red border and clearing in the center.
(This may be confused with ringworm.) Within 2–10 days, a more general
rash occurs in a Christmas tree pattern over the back, trunk, and chest. The
neck, arms, legs, and face may also be involved. This rash is characterized by
multiple small, oval spots. They may be pink, red, or tan but occasionally are a
lighter color. New spots can appear
weeks. Itching can be very mild; rarely will itching be severe. Most cases
resolve within 6 weeks but some can last for months. Some patients have mild
fever and headaches and may feel tired. Pityriasis rosea heals without scarring.
In dark- skinned individuals, there may be some long-lasting lighter brown
aim of treatment is to decrease itching. Treatment does not shorten the course
of pityriasis rosea. Over-the-counter medications such as calamine lotion,
Benadryl, and Aveno Oatmeal baths can decrease the itching. Ultraviolet light
treatments may also be prescribed. Exposure to sunlight may be helpful but
sunburns should be avoided.
• Apply calamine
lotion two times per day to affected areas. Add one packet of Aveno Oatmeal to
the tub and bathe for 10 minutes in lukewarm
• Try Benadryl for
• Try over-the-counter
hydrocortisone cream for itching if the above fails. Apply every 8–10
• Heat will worsen
the itching, so don’t take a hot bath or
• If the skin becomes too
dry, decrease the frequency of lotion use to once per day or every other
• Avoid strenuous activity if
this aggravates the rash.
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• If the
medications are not helping the itching after a few days of
• If not better in 6–8
• If any signs of secondary
infection occur, such as high fever, pus drainage, or