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What is Pityriasis Rosea?

Pityriasis rosea is a common skin rash that is not contagious and usually disappears on its own after a few weeks, though episodes of several months have been recorded. In rare cases, pityriasis rosea may cause severe itching.

Most of the time, pityriasis rosea erupts on the chest, abdomen or back in what is known as a “herald patch” that is roundish and up to 4 inches in diameter. Once the herald patch appears, pityriasis rosea may continue its eruption with smaller, roundish lesions stemming from the original site.

Pityriasis rosea’s exact cause has yet to be confirmed; however, there is some evidence that it may be caused by a viral infection, specifically by some strains of the herpes virus.

What are the symptoms?

The herald patch that signifies the onset of pityriasis rosea is usually roundish, slightly raised and scaly to the touch. The herald patch almost always appears on the chest, abdomen or back and is sometimes misdiagnosed as eczema or ringworm. Shortly after the presence of the herald patch, pityriasis rosea spreads outward. Some patients have reported a sore throat, fever or listlessness prior to the appearance of the herald patch.

Who gets it?

There are no gender biases with pityriasis rosea, and though it can appear at any age, adolescents and young adults are more likely to develop this skin condition.

Treatment Options

Treatment is often “watch and wait” as pityriasis rosea often disappears after a few weeks. However, there are treatment options, which include:

Oatmeal baths to relieve itching
Medicated, topical lotions such as corticosteroids
Ultraviolet light
Antiviral drugs
During the presence of pityriasis rosea, patients are advised to severely restrict physical activity that can lead to overheating the body, and to avoid hot baths.

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