Patient Handouts : Pityriasis Rosea

Pityriasis Rosea

  • Pityriasis rosea is a rash that usually occurs in people between the ages of 10 and 35.
  • It typically causes pink/red, scaly areas on the skin and typically lasts anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
  • It often starts with something called a herald patch, which is the first scaly spot, often larger than the others. Other similar, smaller lesions develop in the next couple weeks.
  • Some cases of pityriasis rosea itch; others are asymptomatic.
  • The cause of pityriasis is not definitively known, but there is evidence to suggest that it is caused by a virus.
  • It is very rare for pityriasis rosea to spread from one individual to another.


  • Pityriasis rosea will resolve on its own without any treatment. Some patients are prescribed steroid creams to help with itching. Moisturizers may also reduce itching. Sometimes oral antiviral medications are used to help speed the resolution of the rash; their benefit is not universally accepted.
  • In more severe cases pityriasis rosea can also be treated with phototherapy. With this treatment patients stand in a large box that emits ultraviolet light, which helps the rash to resolve.
  • Pityriasis rosea generally does not cause any long-term scarring of the skin.
  • Pityriasis rosea does not cause any internal problems.
  • Most patients with pityriasis rosea get it only once in a lifetime.