Pityriasis Rosea (pit-ih-RYE-as-sis Ro-ZEA) is a common skin condition that causes a rash. This rash can look worrisome, but it is harmless. This rash can last anywhere from two to 20 weeks before disappearing.
The rash is harmless, so treatment is often unnecessary, but it can be itchy. Dermatologists can treat patients bothered by itch or a lingering rash.
Pityriasis rosea tends to develop gradually. Many people develop one oval patch on their skin. This patch is pink to salmon-colored in people who have white to olive-colored skin. If you have brown or black skin, the patch can be gray to dark brown and often difficult to see.
The first patch often forms on the chest or back and grows for about two weeks. This patch may look scaly, causing some people to mistake it for ringworm, a fungal infection. Applying medicine that treats ringworm will not clear this patch.
Within a week or two of seeing the first patch, most people develop a rash. The spots that make up this rash tend to be smaller than the first patch. The rash may appear anywhere on your skin, but is most common on the trunk, legs, and arms. Often, the rash is heaviest on the skin covering the lower abdomen and groin area. Your skin may itch, especially if you become overheated.
Most patients do not need treatment. The rash often disappears within four to 12 weeks. Even the most severe rashes eventually go away.
While you are waiting for the rash to clear, dermatologists recommend that you avoid activities that cause you to overheat. Overheating often causes the rash to worsen. Using lukewarm water for showers and baths, applying moisturizers daily, and stopping strenuous physical activity until the rash clears will help.
If your skin is extremely itchy or the rash lingers, you should see your dermatologist. Your dermatologist can create a treatment plan. Your treatment plan may include applying a corticosteroid, or medical ointment, to your skin. This medicine can help stop the itch and clear the rash. In some patients with more widespread disease or stubborn itching, ultraviolet (UV) light treatments will be suggested.
Most people only get Pityriasis Rosea once in their lifetime. The rash rarely returns.