Pityriasis Rosea

Here’s some important information on Pityriasis Rosea — or, as we sometimes think of it at Kids Plus, one of Dr. Pai’s favorite rashes…

What Is It?

A skin rash most common in ages 6-30 years, and more likely in the spring and fall. A provider can examine the rash and diagnose it.

What Does it Look Like

The rash typically begins with a single large circular or oval spot on the chest or abdomen. This is called the herald, or mother, patch. It can be 1-3 inches wide and look similar to ringworm. The herald patch can appear scaly, with a raised border and a pink center.

Approximately 7-14 days after the herald patch first appears, a more widespread rash of smaller but similar looking spots will appear on both sides of the body. This new rash will move out from the center of the body in a shape that can resemble a pine tree. It will be comprised of pink oval shaped spots ¼ to ½ inch wide. The spots are covered with fine scales and will look crinkled in appearance.

This rash typically appears on the chest, abdomen and back, and is often worse in the groin and armpits. It can appear on the face, but this is not as common. The rash can be very itchy for the first 1-2 weeks

What Causes It?

Though the cause of PR is not clear, the rash is most likely caused by a virus. It is NOT contagious, so  your child can attend school or sports and gym.

How Long Does it Last?

The rash will last from 6-10 weeks, and different areas will resolve at different times. The rash will disappear without treatment. The good news is that this condition is harmless, and that aside from being itchy at times, your little one will feel fine.

How Do You Treat It?

1. Skin Creams

Generally, treatment is not necessary. If the skin becomes dry, a moisturizing lotion may be helpful. If the itchiness worsens, you can use 1% hydrocortisone cream 2-3 times a day. If there is no improvement with this steroid cream, call the office to discuss other options. Other options to help improve discomfort are taking a lukewarm bath, or an oatmeal bath.

2. Antihistamines

Over-the-counter Benadryl can help decrease itching. If necessary, call the office for the appropriate dose.

3. Sunlight Exposure

One dose of Ultraviolet light can help stop the itchiness and may help shorten the course of PR. In warmer weather, children can sunbathe for 30 minutes — with a goal to make the skin pink, but avoid sunburn. Do this only once.

Are There Any Complications?

Severe itching and lasting dark/brown spots after the rash has healed, usually present on darker skin. These will take time to fade away, because there was an irritation to the skin.

When Should I Call the Office?

  • If the rash becomes very itchy.
  • If the rash becomes infected, with warm, red, tender areas, pus or draining scabbed areas.
  • The rash is lasting longer than 3 months/12 weeks.
  • If you have any questions or concerns

Jonette McClelland, a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner, joined Kids Plus in 2012.