Pityriasis rosea: What you should know

Pityriasis rosea: What you should know

Pityriasis rosea is a rash which may look very dramatic to the eye. Despite this, without the need for medication, the rash is very mild and appears to clear up by itself.

Adults and children alike may be affected by the rash, although it is most frequent among those aged 10 to 35 years.

The rash is also likely to occur during pregnancies. While rosea pityriasis is a benign skin disease, there is a risk that the newborn may have adverse effects.


Pityriasis symptoms
Pityriasis rosea commonly affects people aged 10 to 35 years old and a first symptom may be a fever or a headache.

Often, the first sign of the condition is when an individual feels slightly unwell. Having a fever, a headache, or some joint pain could include this feeling.

Before the first sign of the rash appears, a general feeling of being unwell may last for a few days.

One of the prominent symptoms of the rash is itching. About 50 percent of individuals with rosea pityriasis may experience itching.

Typically, the primary rash itself is preceded by the appearance of a single oval patch known as the patch “herald” or “mother.”

This patch is usually pink with a darker border and often appears over a much wider area between 2 days and 2 weeks before the main rash develops.

The patch for the herald can measure 2 to 10 centimeters (cm). It appears on the stomach, chest, back, or neck most often. It can develop on the scalp , face, or even near the genitals less frequently.

While a wider rash may take anything from a few days to 2 weeks to develop, it can continue to spread for up to 12 weeks.

A mass of smaller patches, or plaques, that cover more parts of the body, make up this widespread rash. The upper arms and upper thighs may belong to the affected areas.

These regions tend to be areas where the skin, such as along cleavage lines and on both sides of the upper trunk, is more relaxed. Generally, the wider rash does not affect the face.

A pinkish-red rash appears to occur in those with light-colored skins, while those with darker skins may expect to see grey, dark brown, or even black spots.


During early pregnancy, research into pityriasis rosea suggests that it could cause miscarriage, with researchers finding it in 8 of the 61 females studied. Before or after the birth itself, certain women experienced premature delivery and other issues.

When the diagnosis is difficult, it can be said that Pityriasis rosea is atypical. There is always an atypical pityriasis rosea rash characterized by:

  • an unusual appearance, including small bumps, blisters, weal-like patches, and bruising
  • large patches that may merge or run into others
  • unusual distribution of skin lesions, often affecting folds of relaxed skin, such as around the armpits, groin, and breasts
  • inclusion of mucosal sites, for example, mouth ulcers
  • a single herald patch that is not followed by a widespread rash
  • several or no herald patches
  • larger than usual number of plaques
  • severe itch
  • a longer course of disease than usual
  • disease recurring a number of times

What causes pityriasis rosea?

No one knows what causes Rosea Pityriasis. It is not an allergy, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), and fungi and bacteria do not cause it.

One theory suggests that the rash is caused by a viral infection, such as herpes viruses 6 and 7. Pityriasis rosea, however, does not pass to other persons by direct interaction, unlike other diseases caused by viruses. In rare cases, the rash develops as a side effect of some drugs.


A lady using moisturizing creams
Symptoms of pityriasis rosea may be relieved by over-the-counter treatments such as moisturizing creams.

A specialist should be consulted by someone who has an unexplained rash. The doctor will be able to prescribe the right medicine to treat any scratching that the person may have if the person has pityriasis rosea.

While the above symptoms may be caused by rosea pityriasis, they may also be caused by a particular skin disease. Some factors that would be regarded by a doctor include:

They can refer the person to a skin specialist (dermatologist) if a doctor has doubts about the diagnosis.


Pityriasis rosea normally clears up within 12 weeks, without any medical care being required.

The rash is not painful, but it can be both unpleasant and itchy, like many other rashes. Fortunately, these symptoms can be relieved quickly and easily.

Possible treatments include:

  • Skin-soothing and moisturizing creams: Use creams in place of soap to avoid the irritation that soaps can cause. These are available over the counter from most pharmacists.
  • Steroid creams or ointments: Hydrocortisone reduces redness, itching, and swelling. Betamethasone treats the itching and redness along with any discomfort caused by various skin conditions.
  • Antihistamines: Commonly used to combat allergic reactions, doctors may prescribe them to anyone who has difficulty sleeping because of the itching.

The use of neem, coconut oil, oatmeal, catechu paste, or aloe vera are home remedies for the rash.

When taking a shower or bath, people are often recommended to use lukewarm water. If the skin gets overheated, the rash can intensify for a while and become more visible.