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Pityriasis Rosea -ˈrō-zē-ə

By The Manual's Editorial Staff,

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What is pityriasis rosea?

Pityriasis rosea is a skin disease that causes small, scaly circular patches on your skin. The patches are tan or rose-colored and are itchy.

  • Pityriasis rosea may be caused by a virus, but doctors don’t think you can spread it to other people

  • Women between 10 and 35 years old are most likely to get pityriasis rosea

  • Pityriasis rosea usually goes away on its own in about 5 weeks, but sometimes it can last for 2 months or more

What causes pityriasis rosea?

Doctors don’t know for sure what causes pityriasis rosea, but they think it may be caused by a virus infection.

What are the symptoms of pityriasis rosea?

You get a patch of skin on your chest, belly area, or back that is:

  • Round

  • Scaly

  • Rose-colored or tan in color

  • About 1 to 4 inches wide (2.5 to 10 centimeters)

This patch is called a herald patch or mother patch. Sometimes, you feel weak and tired, have a headache, or have joint pain a few days before the patch appears.

After 1 to 2 weeks, you may have:

  • Many smaller patches on other parts of your body

  • Itchiness, which can be severe

In children, patches may start in the groin area (the area between your upper thighs and your belly) or under the arms and spread. Children and pregnant women with pityriasis rosea may have patches with little or no scaling.

How can doctors tell if I have pityriasis rosea?

Your doctor usually can tell you have pityriasis by the way your skin patches look and because a large patch showed up first.

How do doctors treat pityriasis rosea?

Your doctor may recommend:

  • Exposure to natural sunlight or sunlamps

  • Antihistamine pills for itching

  • Corticosteroid creams for severe itching if antihistamines don't help

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