DefinitionPityriasis rosea is a common skin rash. The rash is scaly and reddish-pink. It may first appear on the back, stomach, or chest. The rash can then spread to the neck, arms, and legs.
CausesThe cause of pityriasis rosea is unknown. It may be caused by viruses or a certain medication, such as antibiotics or heart medications.
Risk FactorsPityriasis rosea occurs most often in children and young adults. It is more likely to occur in the spring and fall.
SymptomsBefore a rash appears, the first symptoms may be similar to the common cold. They may include:
- Sore throat
- Joint pain
- Nausea and loss of appetite
- A herald patch—large, oval, scaly patch that is often on the back, stomach, armpit, or chest. It is often the first lesion to appear.
- Rose-colored patches that appear after several days to 2 weeks that may have scaly edges.
- Patches found on the back tend to form a Christmas tree pattern.
- Patches are not typically itchy, but mild to severe itching may occur.
- Itching worsens when the body overheats.
- This may happen during physical activities or after taking a hot shower.
- Skin redness or inflammation
DiagnosisYou will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Pityriasis rosea can usually be diagnosed by looking at your rash.You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in skin disorders (dermatologist) if the rash is difficult to identify.Teasting is usually not needed, but your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested if the diagnosis is uncertain. This can be done with:
- Blood tests
- Skin scrape
- Skin biopsy
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