Pityriasis rosea (PR) is a skin condition that causes rashes which usually occurs on the torso, upper arms, thighs or neck. It may sound worse but it’s common and easy to treat in fact. It’s not contagious and usually doesn’t leave marks or scars after it heals.
Generally, PR is harmless while it may cause some problems in pregnant women, such as premature delivery or miscarriage. PR often occurs in people between the ages of 10 and 35. The rash that caused by PR usually lasts from six to eight weeks.
The cause of PR is unknown currently. However, it is believed to be related to viral infections, including human herpesvirus 6 (HHV6) or human herpesvirus 7 (HHV7).
Certain medications may cause a similar rash.
The development process of PR:
- An upper respiratory tract infection may precede all other symptoms in as many as 69% of patients.
- A single, 2-10mm oval red patch appears, usually on the abdomen. Occasionally, the patch may occur in the hidden position (such as armpit) where cannot be noticed immediately. The patch may also look like a cluster of smaller oval spots which can be mistaken for acne.
- 7–14 days after the patch appears, many small (5–10 mm) patches of pink or red, flaky, oval-shaped rash appear on the torso. More numerous oval patches generally spread widely across the chest first, following the rib-line in a characteristic “christmas-tree” distribution. Several days later, small, circular patches may appear on the back and neck.
- About one in four patients with PR have mild to severe symptomatic itching and the symptom will get worse if scratched. With the develop of rashes, this symptom will tend to fade and won’t usually last through the entire course of the disease.
- It usually lasts less than three months and goes away without treatment.
Some symptoms may occur during the process:
- low-grade fever
- For infants and young children, the rash may appear in blister form.
Diagnosis of PR is based on the symptoms, experienced doctors may make the diagnosis clinically.
PR can be diagnosed by sight, but sometimes a potassium hydroxide test is used to confirm that it is not caused by a fungal infection.
The clinical appearance of PR is similar to that of secondary syphilis, a test for syphilis may also be done on a sexually active person.
The rashes of PR can disappear on their own and treatment is not required.
But some treatment options can be helpful to relieve itching and improve the appearance, including:
- oral antihistamines
- topical steroids
Steroids are effective, but they also cause the new skin need more time to match the surrounding skin color after the rash subsides.
- skin lotions and lubricants
Direct sunlight makes the lesions resolve more quickly. According to this, medical treatment with ultraviolet light has been used to hasten resolution, though people cannot confirm whether it can relieve itching. UV therapy is most beneficial in the first week of the eruption.
In most cases, PR goes away within six to 12 weeks. Some options may helpful during patients’ daily lives.
- Avoid scratching
It’s possible that scratching can make itching worse and an itch-scratch cycle may develop with regular scratching. This means you itch more because you scratch, so you scratch more because you itch, and so on.
- Avoid irritants
Irritants such as soaps with fragrances, hot water, wool, and synthetic fabrics should be avoided.
- Can use some lotions that help stop or prevent itching.
In most cases, the condition only several weeks; while in some cases, it can last longer even up to six months. Two percent of patients have recurrence.
Please remember to consult your doctors for your treatments.
Keywords: pityriasis rosea; PR.