Pityriasis Rosea

Pityriasis rosea is a type of skin rash. It starts with one large round or oval scaly patch called the herald patch, and then causes many more small patches. The rash most often appears on the chest, back, and belly. It can take 1 to 2 months to go away.

Pityriasis rosea is a harmless non-contagious rash. The exact cause is unknown. It's not an allergic reaction, and doesn't seem to be caused by a viral or fungal infection. Although anyone can get it, it's most often seen in children and young adults ages 10 to 35.

This condition usually resolves on its own without treatment in 2 weeks.  In some people it may take 6 to 8 weeks to clear up. Once it’s gone, it usually doesn’t come back.

Home care

  • For dry skin, use a moisturizing cream. For itchiness, use 1% hydrocortisone cream (no prescription needed) or calamine lotion 2 to 3 times a day.

  • Exposure to natural sunlight helps some people. It may help fade the rash, but doesn't seem to help the itching. Don't overdo it in the sun, as your skin may be more sensitive than usual. You don’t want to burn yourself. Artificial sun lamps, sun beds, and tanning salons are not recommended.

  • This condition is not contagious. Your child may attend daycare or school while the rash is present.

Medicines

Talk with your healthcare provider before using any medicines. All medicines have side effects.

  • Medicines will not get rid of the rash. 

  • Moisturizing skin creams may help.

  • Antihistamines may help with itching, but they can make you sleepy.

  • Topical steroids are sometimes used.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. Call your provider if the itching is not controlled by the above suggestions, or if the rash lasts longer than 3 months.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • You develop a rash and are pregnant

  • Severe itching

  • Signs of infection in the skin (increasing redness, drainage of pus, yellow-brown scabs)

  • Fever or other symptoms of a new illness

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