Pityriasis rosea

Pityriasis rosea

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Alternative Names: Pityriasis circinata, pityriasis maculata.

Pityriasis rosea is a common rash in children and young adults. It usually looks like round or oval scaly pink/brown patches and occurs mainly on the chest and back, although the rash may appear at other places as well.

There is no known definitive cause. The vast majority of dermatologists believe that this disease should be some kind of viral infection. This is mainly because some of the following inferences like:

1. Diseases are seasonal, usually a few months a year there will be a particularly large number of patients.

2. Many patients prior to the onset of the skin has a number of flu-like symptoms.

3. In pityriasis rosea typical rash appears first on the chest, stomach or back. In the next 12 weeks, on the patient's trunk and proximal limbs, will appear one after another pink erythema. Because of the rapidity of spreading this can be alarming.

Risk factors may include:

    The mycoplasma.

  • The picovirus.

  • The human herpes virus type 7.

Pityriasis rosea can affect any age group, but commonly affects older children and young adults. It usually goes away on its own, but may last for several weeks. Before it disappears, pityriasis rosea may make you mildly uncomfortable, but there are steps you can take to relieve your discomfort.


Symptoms may include:

    You may feel like you have a cold at first.

  • You may feel congested.

  • You may have sore throat and cough.

  • Headache and low-grade fever may present.

  • A scaly red spot may appear on your back or stomach. This is called a "herald patch."

  • Smaller spots will develop on your body days to weeks later.

  • Itching may present.

  • The patches seem crinkly and loose in the centre.


Differential diagnosis may include: Eczema, ringworm or psoriasis. Infection with syphilis also can cause a similar rash.

Dermatologist can usually diagnose pityriasis rosea by the way the rash looks. A blood test may be needed to rule out a form of syphilis, which can cause a similar rash. 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.Occasionally, a skin biopsy may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.


There is no special treatment for pityriasis rosea. You should lead your normal, active life. If possible, expose the skin to moderate amounts of sunlight because this tends to lessen the rash, but you must avoid sunburn. Otherwise, ultraviolet light therapy three times a week is helpful.

If itching is a problem, your doctor may recommend the following to provide relief:

    Steroid creams or ointments. These creams will help ease itching and decrease redness.

  • Oral antihistamines: These medications are available by prescription as cetirizine (Zyrtec) and fexofenadine (Allegra), and over-the-counter as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), clemastine (Tavist) and loratadine (Claritin).

A soothing bath oil, such as QV Bath Oil, can give relief and is particularly useful for children.

These steps may help you relieve the discomfort of pityriasis rosea:

    Bathe and shower in lukewarm water.

  • Use zinc oxide cream or calamine lotion on the rash.

Disclaimer: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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