Pityriasis Rosea

Pityriasis rosea (PR) is a rash which lasts several weeks to several months. The cause is unknown, but recent articles suggest that a virus may be present. It seems to affect teenagers and young adults more than others, and it occurs somewhat more commonly in the spring and fall seasons.

Classically, the rash appears first as a large pink patch on the chest or back, called a “herald” patch, as seen in the photo above. Then, within a week or two, multiple other smaller patches develop on the skin, usually on the chest, neck, back, arms,and legs. The face is usually not involved. The patches are usually oval in shape and have a scale on the inside edge. Itching may develop on the skin and only rarely are there symptoms of fatigue and body aches. The rash usually fades within two months but may worsen before signs of improvement are evident.

Because of the general appearance of the rash, with the scale just inside the outer edge, many people mistake pityriasis rosea for ringworm or a fungus.

Any symptoms of itching or pain that may occur may be treated to maintain comfort, but there is no treatment for the rash itself; it resolves on its own in a few months and rarely recurs.