Pityriasis rosea is a common skin rash that typically begins with a single large skin patch that develops on the chest, abdomen or back. This “herald” patch ranges in color from pink to red and is often rough and scaly.
Within one to two weeks, additional oval-shaped skin patches develop over the trunk, arms and legs. Rarely, the patches appear on the face, neck, and inside the mouth. Up to half of all individuals who develop pityriasis rosea may also experience itching and irritation of the skin.
Causes of Pityriasis Rosea
Anyone can get pityriasis rosea, although it is most common in children and young adults. The condition also occurs more frequently in pregnant women.
The exact cause is not clear, but some suspect that activity of the immune system in response to a recent infection may trigger pityriasis rosea. Whatever the cause, there is no evidence the condition is contagious, and is usually self limited.
Diagnosis of Pityriasis Rosea
A dermatologist can easily recognize most cases of pityriasis rosea. Since the rash may occasionally resemble other conditions, a biopsy may be done to help confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment of Pityriasis Rosea
Pityriasis rosea is typically self limited and resolves within a few weeks to months without treatment. If itching is severe, your dermatologist may order prescription medications such as corticosteroids or antihistamines to help with your symptoms.
Individuals with pityriasis rosea are advised to avoid hot showers and overheating of the body, since both can intensify itching.
Even after the rash heals, dark spots or discoloration of the skin can remain for several months.