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Pityriasis Rosea

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Pityriasis Rosea


Pityriasis rosea is a common skin rash that is scaly and reddish pink. It may first appear on the back, stomach, or chest. It may then spread to the neck, arms, and legs.


The cause of pityriasis rosea is not known. It may be triggered by a viral infection.

Risk Factors

Pityriasis rosea is more common in people who are 10 to 35 years of age. Pregnant women may be at higher risk.


Symptoms that may appear before the rash include:

  • Lack of energy
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sore throat

The rash starts with one large, oval, and scaly patch on the back, stomach, armpit, or chest. In time, a person may also have:

  • Rose colored patches that may have scaly edges
  • Mild to severe itching
  • Itching that gets worse when the body overheats, such as with exercise or after a shower
  • Skin redness or swelling


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the skin. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.

If the diagnosis is not clear, then you may need to see a doctor who treats the skin. A sample of the skin may be tested. This can be done with a biopsy.

Skin Biopsy.

Skin proceedurehttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=76537653si55551723.jpgsi55551723.jpgNULLjpgsi55551723.jpgNULL\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si55551723.jpgNULL10NULL2008-12-102573907653_96735Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


The rash usually goes away on its own in about six weeks. The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms during this time. Choices are:

  • Supportive care, such as warm oatmeal baths and using moisturizer
  • Medicines to ease itching, such as:
    • Antiviral medicines
    • Antibiotics
    • Antihistamines
    • Corticosteroids
  • Ultraviolet light therapy to speed healing


There are no known guidelines to prevent pityriasis rosea.





  • Pityriasis rosea. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aocd.org/skin/dermatologic_diseases/pityriasis_rosea.html.
  • Pityriasis rosea. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/pityriasis-rosea.
  • Pityriasis rosea. Family Doctor—American Academy Family Physician website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/pityriasis-rosea.
  • Pityriasis rosea: an overview. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/m---p/pityriasis-rosea.
  • Villalon-Gomez JM. Pityriasis Rosea: Diagnosis and Treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2018 Jan 1;97(1):38-44.


  • Kari Kuenn, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.