Pityriasis rosea is a common type of skin rash seen in young adults.
Rash - pityriasis rosea; Papulosquamous - pityriasis rosea; Herald patch
Pityriasis rosea is believed to be caused by a virus. It occurs most often in the fall and spring.
Although pityriasis rosea may occur in more than one person in a household at a time, it is not thought to spread from one person to another. Females seem to be more affected than males.
Attacks most often last 4 to 8 weeks. Symptoms may disappear by 3 weeks or last as long as 12 weeks.
The rash starts with a single large patch called a herald patch. After several days, more skin rashes will appear on the chest, back, arms, and legs.
The skin rashes:
Other symptoms may include:
Exams and Tests
Your health care provider can often diagnose pityriasis rosea by the way the rash looks.
In rare cases, the following tests are needed:
If symptoms are mild, you may not need treatment.
Your provider may suggest gentle bathing, mild lubricants or creams, or mild hydrocortisone creams to soothe your skin.
Antihistamines taken by mouth may be used to reduce itching. You can buy antihistamines at the store without a prescription.
Moderate sun exposure or ultraviolet (UV) light treatment may help make the rash go away more quickly. However, you must be careful to avoid sunburn.
Pityriasis rosea often goes away within 4 to 8 weeks. It usually doesn't come back.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call for an appointment with your provider if you have symptoms of pityriasis rosea.
Gehris RP. Dermatology. In: Zitelli BJ, McIntire SC, Nowalk AJ, eds. Zitelli and Davis' Atlas of Pediatric Physical Diagnosis. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 8.
Habif TP. Psoriasis and other papulosquamous diseases. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 8.
Review Date: 10/8/2018
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.