Pityriasis Rosea Treatment

Skin rashes are common among children and adults alike and have many causes, such as an allergic reaction to an infection. If you develop a rash, contact our Gainesville dermatology office to schedule an appointment for a diagnosis, possible treatment, and information on avoiding these rashes in the future. Pityriasis rosea, also commonly referred to as Christmas tree rash, is a common skin condition that can affect people of all ages. However, it primarily affects people between the ages of 10 and 35.

Contact Gainesville Dermatology & Skin Surgery today for more information about pityriasis rosea treatment and the wide range of skin conditions we treat. Prioritize the health of your skin; schedule a dermatologist appointment today.

What Is Pityriasis Rosea?

Pityriasis rosea, commonly referred to as pityriasis rosea Gibert and Christmas tree rash, is an oval-shaped skin rash appearing on different body parts. It usually begins as a large, circular, or oval-shaped spot on the chest, abdomen, or back. This pityriasis rosea herald patch can measure up to four inches across. Once the herald patch appears, there may be a more diffuse outbreak of smaller spots forming a sweeping pattern out from the middle of the body in a shape resembling a Christmas tree's drooping branches. A few plaques may also appear on the thighs, upper arms, and neck.

The smaller-size spots are scaly and flat or thickened, and they typically occur 1–2 weeks after the herald patch appears. These oval-shaped secondary lesions are sometimes ring-shaped with a dry, scaly surface, specifically at the center.Pityriasis rosea plaques usually occur alongside the relaxed skin tension lines or cleavage lines on both sides of the upper trunk. Though the rash of pityriasis rosea is characteristic, this condition may be confused with other rash-related conditions of the skin, including psoriasis, eczema, contact dermatitis, and ringworm (tinea corporis)

Pityriasis Rosea Stages

There are three distinct pityriasis rosea stages. During the first stage, the prodromal (initial) symptoms last approximately one week, and the symptoms may occur in less than half of individuals with this condition. Symptoms may include a high temperature or fever of 100.4°F, an upset stomach, headache, loss of appetite, joint pain, and a general feeling of being unwell. The second stage marks the beginning of the pityriasis rosea Christmas tree rash. During this stage, a red, oval patch of scaly skin (herald patch) appears over the abdomen, back, or chest.

The herald patch may occur less commonly on other body parts, such as the genitals, scalp, or face. The patch grows over multiple days. The third stage of pityriasis rosea is characterized by a generalized skin rash, in addition to the presence of a herald rash. These lesions usually appear in 1–2 weeks. These rashes are small, raised, red patches of skin that appear over the chest, arms, abdomen, legs, neck, and other areas, usually excluding the face. The patches are commonly distributed in a pattern that resembles a Christmas tree or pine tree on the upper back, with a V-shape distribution over the chest.

Pityriasis Rosea Causes

The exact cause of pityriasis rosea is unclear, though some evidence indicates a viral infection may trigger it. This may be particularly prevalent with certain strains of the herpes virus, but this condition is not related to the herpes virus that causes cold sores. Though pityriasis rosea can resemble hives, or other types of skin reaction, it is not caused by an allergy. Additionally, fungus and bacteria don't contribute to this condition. The majority of affected individuals are young and healthy. The disease usually develops in individuals between 10–35 years of age, though individuals of any age may develop pityriasis rosea. This condition is also more common in pregnant women.

Pityriasis Rosea Symptoms

Doctors diagnose pityriasis rosea in patients across all age ranges. People worldwide develop this condition, though it is more common in places with a moderate climate. The skin rash's appearance on your skin may vary with skin color and tone. Individuals with darkly pigmented skin may develop one large patch followed by multiple, small bumps. Both the rash and the bumps can be muddy violet to brown. Those with darkly pigmented skin may also have a higher risk of developing pityriasis rosea on the face. Individuals with a light complexion are more likely to develop one large patch followed by many smaller patches, which can be pink or salmon-colored.

A pityriasis rosea rash can cause mild to severe itching. Other symptoms include the following. For more information about the symptoms associated with pityriasis rosea and to schedule a consultation with our dermatologists in Gainesville, FL, contact Gainesville Dermatology & Skin Surgery today.

  • Fever
  • Sore Throat
  • Tiredness Or Lethargy
  • Headache
  • Upset Stomach
  • Rash In The Pattern Of A Christmas Tree
  • Joint Pain
  • Pink Or Pale-Red-Colored Rashes
  • An Oval, Scaly, Red Herald Patch
  • Loss Of Appetite
  • Itchiness On Or Around The Rash
  • Widespread Rash With Small Lesions

Pityriasis Rosea Treatment

In most cases, your doctor can diagnose pityriasis rosea by examining the skin and the rash pattern. Your dermatologist may take a small sample (biopsy) of the rash and send it to a laboratory for testing under a microscope to confirm a diagnosis of pityriasis rosea. Though common, this condition isn't always simple to diagnose as it appears similar to other types of common skin rashes, such as ringworm, eczema, or psoriasis. Even if your doctor suspects a Christmas tree rash on back skin, chest skin, or skin elsewhere on the body, they may order blood work to eliminate other possibilities.

In some cases, pityriasis rosea can go away on its own in 4–10 weeks, though it may last longer. If the rash doesn't disappear by this time or if the itching is bothersome, consult your dermatologist to discuss treatment options. Your dermatologist may prescribe certain medications, and/or they may recommend certain pityriasis rosea treatment creams or other over-the-counter medications and home remedies, such as antihistamines, hydrocortisone anti-itch cream, and lukewarm oatmeal baths, to help soothe your skin until the rash disappears. Speak with your dermatologist if the itching or irritation becomes unbearable, as they may be able to prescribe a stronger anti-itch medication than the items available over the counter.

Exposure to natural or artificial light may help the rash heal; however, light therapy may cause lasting darkening in certain spots, even after the rash is gone. In addition, some individuals with dark skin may develop brown spots once the rash disappears, though these spots may eventually fade. Patients who are pregnant and develop pityriasis rosea should contact their physician right away, as this may produce a greater risk of a miscarriage or premature delivery.

Pityriasis Rosea Vs Ringworm

Pityriasis rosea and ringworm are easily confused, but several significant differences exist between these two skin conditions. Both ringworm and Christmas tree rash cause pink, flaky patches on the skin. Pityriasis rosea can develop on multiple body parts, though it most commonly occurs on the chest or back. Ringworm, however, can occur anywhere on the body, including the scalp, fingernails, face, or legs. Pityriasis rosea usually forms a large, red or pink oval rash followed by a generalized skin rash with multiple red, scaly lesions that form the shape of a Christmas tree. As the name suggests, ringworm forms a ring with skin that appears healthy at the center. While ringworm is usually treated with antifungal medications, pityriasis rosea don't respond to these medications. Pityriasis rosea usually goes away on its own, but you may require treatment from a Gainesville dermatologist to aid in the rash healing and to relieve itching.

Pityriasis Rosea Home Remedies

The following tips may help you relieve discomfort and other symptoms of pityriasis rosea. Though the pityriasis rosea rash typically goes away on its own, you should consult your dermatologist if you have an unexplained rash or if your Christmas tree rash remains up to three months after the initial symptoms appear. Contact our dermatology clinic for more information about this skin condition or schedule an appointment.

  • Take Lukewarm Baths Or Showers
  • Avoid Using Drying Skin Products
  • Wear Cotton Or Silk Clothing To Reduce Heat
  • Take Oatmeal Baths With Lukewarm Water
  • Lubricate Your Skin With Bland, Nondrying Moisturizers
  • Use Over-The-Counter Calamine Lotion Or Corticosteroid Cream
  • Take An Over-The-Counter Antihistamine (Allergy Medicine)
  • Schedule An Appointment With Your Dermatologist For Treatment