This patient information and photograph on Pityriasis Rosea is provided by John L. Meisenheimer, M.D. a board certified Dermatologist and skin care specialist based in Orlando, Florida. This information is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice or treatment of a dermatologist or other physician.
What is it? Pityriasis rosea is a peculiar disorder of the skin. It can occur at any age, but it
is seen more often in young adults. Typically it begins as one oval, slightly scaly patch (called the herald patch) which many people confuse for ring worm. One to six weeks later multiple smaller, sometimes itchy, oval patches break out on the trunk. Outbreaks tend to occur in the spring and fall.
What causes it? I and many other skin specialists believe that Pityriasis rosea is a viral infection of the skin.
Is it dangerous? For the typical healthy person Pityriasis rosea is a harmless disorder. It is not related to cancer and it does not involve internal organs.
Can it be cured? Pityriasis rosea usually lasts about six to eight weeks, but it may last up to four months. Treatment improves symptoms, and in same treatment may shorten the course of the disorder. After the attack immunity is conferred, although an extremely rare individual may get a second episode.
What home care should I use?
- If you are having occasional itching you can try Prax Lotion or Sarna Anti-Itch Lotion.
- Moisturizing lotions may help soften the dryness. Moisturizer recommendations.
- Sun exposure often helps Pityriasis Rosea. If you are out in the sun use sunscreens on the non-involved areas. Sunscreen recommendations.
Will any special tests need to be done? Rarely I will do a blood test to make sure you don't have a more serious bacterial infection that sometimes mimics Pityriasis rosea. I will not need to do this test in every case.
Will it spread? New areas of involvement may continue to form for a short time.
Is it contagious? Nobody knows how the condition spreads. Because of the harmless nature of the disorder, no special precautions are necessary. It is very rare to see two members of the same family with Pityriasis rosea at the same time. Children do not have to be kept home from school.