What Is Pityriasis Rosea?

Pityriasis rosea is a common dermatological disorder that can last from a few days to months. In the colloquial sphere, it can sometimes be confused with ringworm.
What Is Pityriasis Rosea?

Last update: 10 February, 2023

Although acne is one of the best-known and most talked about concerns, it isn’t the only reason for dermatological consultation among adolescents and young adults. Pityriasis rosea is another of the most common skin disorders between the ages of 10 and 35.

Although it can affect both men and women in the aforementioned age range, it seems to be more common in women. According to sources such as the MSD Manual, the reason for this, as well as other aspects of the disorder, is unknown. However, the good news is that it is benign and self-limited.


Pityriasis rosea causes hyperpigmented lesions.
Apart from the disease itself, which tends to be self-limited, pityriasis rosea often causes cosmetic problems in those who suffer from it. Fortunately, the treatment is effective.

Pityriasis rosea is a type of inflammatory, self-limited dermatosis. This means that it’s a skin rash that lasts for a limited time. It can appear anywhere on the body, although it’s common to affect the trunk.

Although it can manifest itself in different ways from person to person, it has generally been observed to develop as follows:

  • Pityriasis rosacea begins by producing a single lesion, known as a herald patch. This is generally located on the trunk of the body. It can be annular or oval and has scaly edges. As it becomes irritated, it becomes papulovesicular. It can measure from a few millimeters to about 10 centimeters (4 inches) in total.
  • As time passes, other lesions appear on the skin of the face, neck, and extremities, smaller in size than the herald patch (0.5 to 1.5 centimeters – 0.2 to 0.6 inches).
    • Depending on the person’s skin tone, the lesions will vary in color. Thus, among those with fair complexions, they may be pinkish or salmon-colored, and among those with darker complexions, they may be more pigmented.
    • Secondary lesions are usually asymptomatic, although in some cases they can be itchy.

Pityriasis rosea doesn’t usually cause fever, nor does it usually cause vomiting, diarrhea, or breathing difficulties, etc. Therefore, if the person has a fever and other alarming symptoms, it will be essential to seek medical help as soon as possible.


Although the cause of pityriasis rosea is unknown, it has often been linked to a viral infection (such as those caused by herpesviruses 6, 7, and 8). On the other hand, there are sources that indicate that it has also been associated with the ECHO 6 virus and the following:

  • Stress
  • Pregnancy
  • Immunosuppression
  • Insect bites
  • Organ transplantation
  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Medications or substances such as bismuth, barbiturates, captopril, gold, organic mercurials, metronidazole, D-peniliamide, ketotifen, and isotretinoin.

It seems that pityriasis rosea is more frequent during the cold months, which is why some people believe that dryness could be a triggering factor.


The diagnosis of pityriasis rosea is clinical. This means that it’s based on the clinical appearance and distribution of the lesions. Laboratory tests or skin biopsies aren’t usually necessary, although there are cases in which they could be, such as when communicable skin infections and other diseases are suspected.

If the person has lesions on the palms or soles (or both), the doctor may order serologic tests for syphilis.

  • The differential diagnosis takes into account the following conditions: ringworm (corporal and versicolor), drug eruptions, psoriasis, parapsoriasis, pityriasis lichenoid chronica, lichen planus, and secondary syphilis.


Pityriasis rosea can be controlled and prevented.
The use of sunscreen is important to control pityriasis rosea, in addition to helping to prevent other skin diseases.

Most commonly, pityriasis rosea lasts 6 to 8 weeks and heals without leaving a scar or residual injury. There’s no curative treatment as such, but rather a symptomatic treatment that usually includes the following:

  • Using sun protection daily
  • Avoiding exposing yourself to the sun for long periods of time
  • Not scratching the lesions with your nails
  • Not applying systemic corticosteroids without the authorization of the doctor because they can aggravate the lesions
  • Applying creams with emollient ingredients (to relieve itching and itching)
  • Using mild and neutral soaps.
  • Inert powders or colloids, menthol, phenol, and zinc oxide lotions may be helpful in relieving itching.

If there’s itching and other discomfort, your doctor may prescribe an oral antihistamine or topical steroids. On the other hand, it has been observed that treatment with ultraviolet B light helps to reduce the duration of pityriasis rosea.

When to go to the doctor?

If a lesion has appeared on your trunk that you think could be a herald patch, it’s best to consult a dermatologist. In this way, you’ll be able to know for sure and receive the most appropriate recommendations.

Este texto se ofrece únicamente con propósitos informativos y no reemplaza la consulta con un profesional. Ante dudas, consulta a tu especialista.