Pityriasis rosea is a harmless, common skin problem that causes a rash. It appears as a rash that can last from several weeks to several months. The way the rash looks may differ from person to person. It most often develops in the spring and the fall, and seems to favor adolescents and young adults. Pityriasis rosea is uncommon in those over 60 years old. It may last months longer when it occurs in this age group. A single scaling patch often appears one to twenty days before the general rash. It is an oval plaque 2-5 cm in diameter, with a scale trailing just inside the edge of the lesion. The herald patch is often mistaken as ringworm. It can also be confused with psoriasis. It is most common in females and those between the ages of 8 and 35. Symptoms only recur in 3% of the affected.
Pityriasis rosea occurs most commonly in the fall and spring. It is believed to be caused by a virus. Pityriasis rosea may have prodromal symptoms (eg, malaise, nausea, anorexia, fever, joint pain, lymph node swelling, headache) that may precede the appearance of the herald patch. About half the people who develop pityriasis rosea have signs or symptoms of an upper respiratory infection such as a stuffy nose, sore throat, cough or congestion just before the herald patch appears.
Treatment usually focuses on controlling itching. Antihistamines, taken by mouth, may be used to reduce itching. Aveeno oatmeal baths, anti-itch medicated lotions and steroid creams may be prescribed to combat the rash. Lukewarm, rather than hot, baths may be suggested.
Gentle bathing, mild lubricants or creams, or mild hydrocortisone creams may be used to soothe inflammation. Ultraviolet light treatments given under the supervision of a dermatologist may be helpful. Oral anti-inflammatory medications such as prednisone may be necessary to promote healing. For mild cases, no treatment is required as this disease is not a dangerous skin condition. Calamine lotion may help the mild itch. Sometimes, if the itch is troublesome, a mild steroid cream may help.
Avoid taking hot showers or baths. Keep the water as cool as you can tolerate. Wear cotton or silk clothing. Avoid wearing wool and acrylic fabrics next to your skin. Use as little soap as possible. Use gentle soaps, such as Basis, Cetaphil, Dove, or Oil of Olay. Avoid deodorant soaps when you have a rash.
Pityriasis Rosea Treatment and Prevention Tips
1. Keep the itchy area cool and moist.
2. Avoid taking hot showers or baths. Keep the water as cool as you can tolerate.
3. Try an oatmeal bath, such as Aveeno Colloidal Oatmeal bath, to help relieve itching.
4. Apply a moisturizer or calamine lotion to the skin while it is damp.
5. Wear cotton or silk clothing. Avoid wearing wool and acrylic fabrics next to your skin.
6. Use as little soap as possible. Use gentle soaps, such as Basis, and Dove.