What is Pityriasis Rosea?
Pityriasis rosea is a skin disease that is characterised by a rash. It is quite common, and usually lasts for 6 to 8 weeks. In some cases, the rash will last longer than 8 weeks. It will often go away on its own, but sometimes can be itchy, so treatment may be needed. While people of all ages can get pityriasis rosea, it usually happens to individuals between ages 10 and 35, and often happens when a female is pregnant. While there is not a known cause to the skin disease, it is not related to bacteria or fungi. Pityriasis rosea does not seem to be contagious, but it could be caused by a virus.
Pityriasis Rosea Symptoms
Many times a mother patch will appear when pityriasis rosea is developed. Some may experience a sore throat or a fever before this patch develops on the skin. The mother patch is a single patch on the skin, and will be seen by itself for about 2 weeks prior to any other symptoms. Some call this a “herald patch” as well. The mother patch can get rather large, and could be rather scaly. People who have light to olive colored skin will see the patch be pink or rose in colour. Those with darker skin tones will see a violet to dark gray color.
More patches will form on the skin within the next week or two. These patches are referred to as the “daughter patches”. These patches are smaller than the mother patches, and will form on the chest, abdomen, back, arms, and legs most commonly. They could also form on the face and neck. The patches will be oval shaped. Many times the patches will form a Christmas tree shape on the back. Patches can also develop in the mouth at this point. Skin can be itchy due to the rash, with about 50% of persons have itchy skin. At times, heat will make the itching worse. It is not uncommon for individuals to have only the mother patch or the daughter patches, but it is rare.
Pityriasis Rosea Diagnosis
Should you suspect that you have pityriasis rosea, have your dermatologist inspect your skin. Often times they will be able to diagnose the rash as pityriasis rosea right away, however, in certain cases, it can look like another skin rash or condition. Sometimes a dermatologist may have to perform tests on the skin to determine the exact skin condition present. Those skin tests could involve taking a sample of the skin or doing blood tests.
Pityriasis Rosea Treatment
If there is extreme itching, a dermatologist may prescribe medications for the itching. Corticosteroids can help to ease the itching and the redness from pityriasis rosea. Antiviral drugs can be given to reduce the amount of time pityriasis rosea lasts, usually by one to two weeks. Antihistamines can be used to reduce itching. They can be bought over the counter, however, in some cases, a dermatologist may need to prescribe stronger antihistamines if they are needed.
Exposure to natural light and artificial sunlight could also help with pityriasis rosea. This light can fade the rash. Do note that often times after the rash fades, brown spots can be left on the skin, especially if the skin tone is dark. These spots will fade over time.
If you do have pityriasis rosea, you will want to only take luke warm showers or baths, as the heat will tend to make the rash worse. Take measures not to become overheated so the itching does not get worse. Using calamine lotion on the rash will help to soothe it, as will taking an oatmeal bath.