Medically reviewed by
More than 200,000 US cases per year
- Requires medical diagnosis
- Symptoms: Rash with a pale and thin center followed by multiple smaller oval-sized perimeter rashes
- Color: Typically rose-colored, red
- Location: Anywhere on the skin
- Treatment: No known cure; prescription medication or light therapy can relieve itching
Pityriasis rosea is benign and common with school-age children and young adults. It may be caused by a viral infection and is most likely to spread in spring and autumn. The disease often disappear without treatment within six weeks, but sometimes it can take up to three to six months. Pityriasis rosea is not contagious.
Symptoms of Pityriasis Rosea
The condition usually starts off with red, scaly patches of skin called a “herald patch.” The rash may have a pale and thin center, followed by multiple smaller oval sized, rose-colored perimeter rashes that are about 1-2 cm in size. The patches may be 2-6 cm.
Pityriasis rosea usually begins anywhere on the torso, upper arms or thighs. After one to two weeks, most people experience fewer rashed on the affected areas. It is rare that pityriasis rosea appears on the face. Other symptoms include peeling and itching.
What can I do?
If you experience itching, you can try putting on prescription cortisone cream. You can also lubricate the skin by applying moisturizer and reduce the soap usage to reduce the itch.
Should I seek medical care?
It is usually unnecessary to seek medical care, because pityriasis rosea often disappears without treatment. However, you should contact your healthcare provider if the itching is bearable and not relieved after self-treatment, or if you are unsure whether the rashes are caused by pityriasis rosea.
Treatment for Pityriasis Rosea
Pityriasis rosea usually goes away without any treatment, leaving no trace. The rash lasts about 6 to 8 weeks before it disappears. In rare cases, it lasts for 2 weeks or longer than 8 weeks. If the itching is unbearable, your dermatologist may prescribe a medicine or light treatment to help relieve the itch.
American Academy of Dermatology. Pityriasis Rosea. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/rashes/pityriasis-rosea.
U.S. National Library of Medicine. Pityriasis Rosea. Available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000871.htm.
Ask a Dermatologist
Anonymous, fast and secure!