Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Pityriasis Rosea

Definition

  • Pityriasis Rosea (PR) is a widespread skin rash
  • Special finding: a large "herald patch" that precedes the rash by 1 to 2 weeks

Call or Return If

  • Rash becomes very itchy
  • Rash becomes infected with pus or draining scabs
  • Rash lasts longer than 3 months
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse

About This Topic

Symptoms

  • The rash begins with a large, scaly, pink patch on the chest or back. This is called a "herald" or "mother" patch. It looks like a large ringworm and is 1 to 3 inches across.
  • A widespread rash of smaller matching spots on both sides of the body. This occurs 7 to 14 days after the herald patch first appears.
  • This rash consists of pink, oval-shaped spots that are 1/4 to 1/2 inch across. The spots are covered with fine scales. This gives the rash a crinkled appearance.
  • The rash appears mainly on the chest, stomach, and back. Often, it is worse in the groin and armpits. Usually, the rash does not occur on the face.
  • The rash can be itchy during the first one or two weeks.
  • Age Range. Usually affects people between the ages of 6 and 35 years.

Cause

  • The cause is unknown. It's probably caused by a virus.
  • Fungus, bacteria, and allergy have been proven not to be the cause.

After Care Advice

Overview:
  • Pityriasis Rosea (PR) is a harmless rash that will go away on its own.
  • It lasts 6-10 weeks. During this time your child will feel fine except for some itching
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
Moisturizing Cream:
  • Buy a large bottle of moisturizing cream (avoid those with fragrances).
  • Put the cream on any dry or itchy area 3 times per day.
  • After warm water baths or showers, trap the moisture in the skin. Do this by putting on the cream everywhere after bathing. Use the cream within 3 minutes of completing the bath.
  • Avoid soap during bathing. Reason: soap makes the skin dry and more itchy.
Steroid Cream:
  • For very itchy spots, use 1% hydrocortisone cream. No prescription is needed.
  • Use up to 3 times per day as needed until the itching is better.
  • Eventually, the moisturizing cream will be all that you need.
Sunlight Exposure:
  • One dose of ultraviolet light can stop itching and shorten the course of PR.
  • Have your youngster sunbathe for 30 minutes (enough to make the skin pink). Do this only once.
  • If this is not possible, consider a tanning salon once. Caution: Avoid sunburn.
What to Expect:
  • Itching usually lasts 1 - 2 weeks
  • The rash goes away on its own in 6 to 10 weeks.
Return to School:
  • Your child does not need to miss any school or gym.
  • Pityriasis rosea does not spread to others.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2020 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
Article 2550