Pityriasis Rosea (pit-ih-RYE-as-sis Ro-ZEA) is a common skin condition that causes a rash that can look worrisome, but it is actually harmless. The rash can last anywhere from 2 to 20 weeks before disappearing.
Thus treatment is often unnecessary, although the rash can be itchy and dermatologists can treat all patients bothered by this condition.
Pityriasis rosea tends to develop gradually and in many cases, one oval patch can develop on the skin. This patch will look pink to salmon-colored in patients with white to olive-colored skin tone and in brown or black skin tone, the patch can look gray to dark brown and often difficult to see.
The first patch often forms on the chest or the back and grows for about two weeks. This patch may look scaly, causing some people to mistake it for ringworm (a fungal infection) but 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 tend to be smaller than the first patch. The rash may appear anywhere on the 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 people only get Pityriasis Rosea once in their lifetime. The rash rarely returns.
Most patients do not need treatment and the rash often disappears within 4 to 12 weeks. Even the most severe rash eventually goes away by itself.
While you are waiting for the rash to clear, dermatologists will recommend that you avoid activities that cause you to overheat because it 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 out will help.
If your skin is extremely itching or the rash lingers, you should see your dermatologist who can create a treatment plan that may include applying a corticosteroid or medical ointment to your skin. This medicine can help stop the itchiness and clear the rash. In some patients with more widespread disease or stubborn itching, ultraviolet (UV) light treatments will be suggested.