Pityriasis Rosea

Pityriasis rosea is a rash that can occur at any age but it occurs most commonly in people between the ages of 10 and 35 years.  The rash can last from several weeks to several months.

The condition often begins as a large single pink patch on the chest or back.  This patch may be scaly and is called a “herald” or “mother” patch.  Often the person with this condition will think this patch is a ringworm and will apply creams that are used to get rid of fungus.  This will not help since the rash is not caused by fungus.

Within a week or two, more pink patches appear on the body and the arms and legs.  Occasionally there may be other symptoms, including tiredness and aching.  The rash usually fades and disappears within six to eight weeks, but can sometimes last much longer.

Pityriasis rosea is not a sign of any internal disease.  A virus may cause this rash.  Like other known viral diseases, pityriasis rosea usually occurs only once in an individual.  Unlike many viruses, however, pityriasis rosea does not seem to spread from person to person.

Treatment may include external and internal medications for itching.  Soothing medicated lotions and lubricants may be prescribed.  Strenuous activity or hot showers may aggravate the rash.  Ultraviolet light treatments given under the supervision of a dermatologist may be helpful.

Remember that pityriasis rosea is a common skin disorder and is usually mild.  Most cases usually do not need treatment and fortunately even the most severe cases eventually go away.

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