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Pityriasis Rosea Treatment

Pityriasis rosea (say: "pit-ih-rye-ah-sis row-see-ah") is a scaly, reddish-pink skin rash. It is most common in children and young adults, and usually occurs in spring and fall .

Pityriasis rosea is an acute, self-limiting, inflammatory skin disease that produces a "herald" patch, which usually goes undetected, followed by a generalized eruption of papulosquamous lesions. Although this noncontagious disorder may develop at any age, it's most likely to occur in adolescents and young adults. The incidence increases in the spring and fall. Secondary syphilis, dermatophytosis, or a drug reaction may mimic the condition.


In pityriasis rosea, the cause is unknown, but the disease's brief course and the virtual absence of recurrence suggest a viral agent or an autoimmune disorder.


Pityriasis rosea usually starts with a pink or tan oval area (sometimes called a herald or mother patch) on the chest or back. The main patch is usually followed (after a couple of weeks) by smaller pink or tan patches elsewhere on the body - usually the back, neck, arms, and legs. The scaly rash usually lasts between four to eight weeks and will disappear without treatment.

The following are other common symptoms of pityriasis rosea. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • aches
  • itching

Diagnostic tests

Serologic testing is used to rule out secondary syphilis.


Focusing on relief of pruritus, treatment involves emollients, oatmeal baths, antihistamines and, occasionally, exposure to ultraviolet light or sunlight. Topical steroids in a hydrophilic cream base may be beneficial. Rarely, if inflammation is severe, systemic corticosteroids may be required.


These steps may help relieve the discomfort of pityriasis rosea:

  • Bathe and shower in lukewarm water.
  • Take an oatmeal bath. You can find oatmeal bath products at your pharmacy.
  • Use zinc oxide cream or calamine lotion on the rash.
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity if sweating makes the itching worse.

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