Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD. Patient Handout

About Your Diagnosis
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 rare.

Living With Your Diagnosis
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
for 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 spots.

The 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.

The DO’s
• 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 water.
• Try Benadryl for itching.
• Try over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream for itching if the above fails. Apply every 8–10 hours.

The DON’Ts
• Heat will worsen the itching, so don’t take a hot bath or shower.
• If the skin becomes too dry, decrease the frequency of lotion use to once per day or every other day.
• Avoid strenuous activity if this aggravates the rash.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If the medications are not helping the itching after a few days of use.
• If not better in 6–8 weeks.
• If any signs of secondary infection occur, such as high fever, pus drainage, or swelling.