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  • Dr. Kaplan – Pityriasis Rosea


    Pityriasis rosea is a common skin condition that causes a rash. This rash can look worrisome, but it is harmless. It can last anywhere from 2 to 20 weeks before disappearing.   Treatment is often unnecessary, but it can itch.


    PR tends to develop gradually. Many people develop one oval patch on their skin, which is pink to salmon-colored in people with white to olive-colored skin. For brown or black skin, the patch can be gray to dark brown and difficult to see.The first patch often forms on the chest or back and grows for about 2 weeks. It may look scaly, causing some people to mistake it for ringworm, a fungal infection. Applying medicine that treats ringworm will not work.

    Within a week or two of the first patch, a rash forms. The spots of rash tend to be smaller than the first patch. It may appear anywhere on the skin, but is most common on the trunk, legs, and arms. The rash is heaviest on the skin covering the lower abdomen and groin area. The skin may itch especially if you become overheated.

    PR can appear in different ways, like an oval shaped patch without the rash, and sometimes only the rash appears.

    Rarely some people get ill with PR. Symptoms include extreme tiredness, muscle ache, sore throat, nausea, mild fever, and swollen lymph nodes.


    The rash clears without leaving scars. But if you scratch the itch repeatedly causing bleeding, scars can form. You can get medicine to relieve the itch if it becomes too severe.People with dark skin may see dark spots for some time after the rash clears, which usually clears with time. If the discoloration is bothersome, there are treatments to help clear the spots more quickly


    It is still unknown what causes PR. People of all ages and races can get PR, but young people are more susceptible. It usually develops between the ages of 10 and 35. It is also more common during pregnancy.


    If a woman gets PR during pregnancy, she should contact her obstetrician. In some cases the rash can mean higher risk of premature delivery.


    PR can be diagnosed by the dermatologist. He may sometimes order blood tests or remove a small amount of the affected skin for more accurate diagnosis.It is important to tell your dermatologist about any medications you are taking, since some rash that looks like PR can form from certain medications.


    Most PR do not need treatment, since it often disappears within 4 to 12 weeks on its own, even for the more severe rashes.You may be advised to avoid activities that cause you to overheat to prevent the rash from worsening. Using lukewarm water during showers and baths, applying moisturizers daily, and stopping strenuous physical activity until the rash clears will help.

    If the itch is severe or the rash lingers, dermatologist can create a treatment plan that include corticosteroid ointments to help relieve the itch and stop the rash. For some more serious rash or stubborn itching a UV light treatment may be suggested.

    Most people only get PR once in their lifetime, and it rarely returns.


    All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology.