Skip to main content

Skin Rash-Pityriasis rosea



My 17 year old son showed me the strange rash that was developing on his chest and back.  It was itchy and each day seemed to be getting worse and worse.  The rash spread around his back and under the arms but spared his face and arms and legs.  After examining the pattern, I was sure of the diagnosis...Pityriasis rosea.

This strange rash occurs in the spring and the fall and mainly strikes young adults. (I did diagnose it once in a 35 yer old woman).  We think it is a virus but it doesn't seem to spread from person to person and it is usually quite isolated.

The symptoms start with a "herald patch", one larger spot that develops into a wider, pinkish, scaly rash over a week or so.  The red, raised spots can last for up to 12 weeks but usually resolve by 4-8 weeks.  As seen here, it is mainly on the body trunk.

There is no treatment for Pityriasis rosea except patience and antihistamines for itching. 

For you wordophiles- Pityriasis comes from the Greek "bran" and refers to flaking or scaling of the skin.  Rosea comes from the latin word meaning "pink" or "rose-colored".  The condition was first described in 1860 by French physician Camile Gibert.

Comments

Anonymous said…
This is so helpful. My brother had a rash like this and the dermatologist had no idea what it was. He said it might be mites or allergies. It looked just like this and lasted about 4 weeks. Now I know what he had.
Anonymous said…
…diagnosed with this at 16 … and once again at 52… so it can hit more than once and even when you're a long way past being a young adult...
Anonymous said…
i think i have it do i see a doctor or let it pass?
Toni Brayer, MD said…
Anon on Dec 29. If you are pretty sure it is pityriasis you don't need to see a doctor. There is no treatment and it will pass.
Anonymous said…
I have it right now, same symptoms, I thought I had bed bugs or something but the rash is so itchy, I cant stop scratching it, it started on my chest area and then it spread down to my stomach and now my back. Thank you for posting this, it helps, I guess I have to resist scratching, thanks again.
Anonymous said…
Can you get it bad on your arms? I have these symptoms but its on my arms a lot too and in areas such as under my boobs. Does this sound like it still could be it?
Toni Brayer, MD said…
Anon March 27,2013: If it is mainly on your arms and under your breasts that does not sound like pityriasis. It is most prevalent on the trunk and back and buttocks area. Get it checked out if you are not sure.
Jennifer said…
is it possible to have two herald patches ? my first large patch was on the back of my leg then the rash was on the backs of my legs and stomach, that was around April 10th 2013 , now i have another large patch that appeared about 2 weeks ago that is on my inner thigh . so now i have the rash on my inner thighs , arms, back of my legs and it hurts very bad like raw sore skin. my dermatologist diagnosed me with PR in April.
Unknown said…
I am having the same problem I went to the doctor yesterday he said I was do you di hydrated and that I need to drink alot of Powerades I have it in my stomach and back how long did it take ur son for them to go alway

Popular posts from this blog

scintillating scotoma

Nothing like experiencing a medical condition first-hand to really help a doctor understand it from the patient's point of view.  After all these years, I had my first (and hopefully last) scintillating scotoma while sitting on the couch playing "words with friends" on my ipad and watching TV.  A scotoma is a partial loss of vision in a normal visual field.  Scintillate is flashing, sparkles.  Put them together and you have moving, flashing sparkles with a blind spot in your eyes.

This visual aura was first described in the 19th century  by a Dr. Hubert Airy who had migraine headaches.  The visual sparks and flashes are in a zig-zag pattern and they can precede a migraine headache or occur without any pain.   The scotoma affects both eyes and closing one or the other does not make it go away.  Sometimes the term "ocular migraine" or "retinal migraine"  are used to describe this phenomenon but these involve only one eye, not both.  The terms are often …

Do Doctors Make Too Much Money?

An article in theNew York Times says the reason health care costs are so high in the United States is because doctors are paid too much. I saw that and my eyes bugged out. I just came home from a meeting with physicians and hospital administrators and the entire meeting was spent discussing the financial challenges physicians face in keeping their doors open to see patients. The goal of this meeting was to keep health services in that community so patients will have someone to care for them. Not a person in the room would agree that the doctors earn too much.

Physicians paid too much? Lets break that down. A doctor spends a minimum of 11 years in education and training after the age of 18. Many are in training for 15 or more years. They are living on student loans and contributing zero to their family's income until the residency years. At that time they earn less than minimum wage if you factor in the 80-100 hour workweek. When a doctor emerges from training (and believe me…