What is Pityriasis Rosea?
Pityriasis rosea is a very common viral disease that affects the skin and is commonly seen in children and adults between the ages of 10 and 35 years old. Luckily, the disease typically only affects a person once and does not reappear. Generally speaking, the rash from pityriasis rosea will last between six and nine weeks although, in some cases, it may last up to twelve weeks. The rash caused by this viral skin disease will usually disappear after it has run its course without any treatment, but people tend to see a doctor for treatment due to the itchiness.
What Causes Pityriasis Rosea?
Unfortunately, the causes of pityriasis rosea are currently unconfirmed although doctors believe it may be caused by a viral infection similar to a form of herpes. The skin disease is not contagious, so you can’t catch it from anyone else. Because the causes are otherwise unknown, however, it can be very difficult to attempt to prevent the rash from appearing. Luckily, the skin disease is harmless, so you shouldn’t be worried too much about the causes or how to prevent it.
What Are the Symptoms of Pityriasis Rosea?
Pityriasis rosea doesn’t have many symptoms, but the rash is very distinctive and will be easily recognizable when it appears. When it first develops, you will see a single, large rash on your back, chest, or neck, but rarely ever on your feet, hands, or face; you may or may not experience headaches, a fever, or a sore throat at the same time. This original patch is often called the mother patch or the herald patch, and its texture may feel raised or rough. You’ll recognize the patch by its evident, scaly border.
Somewhere between a few days and a few weeks after the herald or mother patch appears, more patches often referred to as “daughter” patches will appear around the original. These patches are smaller than the mother or herald patch and often appear in a pattern that resembles the shape of a Christmas tree. These patches may become itchy during exercise or exposure to heat.
Otherwise, many people don’t report any symptoms other than mild itchiness around the rash patches. This itchiness may appear due to exercise, exposure to heat, and stress. In some cases, someone with pityriasis rosea may also experience other symptoms, including a sore throat, decreased appetite, fatigue, and nausea. In most cases, however, the person is very healthy and does not show any other issues.
How to Treat Pityriasis Rosea
The one plus of this unpleasant rash is that pityriasis rosea doesn’t actually require any treatment; it will go away on its own after it has run its course for six to nine, maybe twelve, weeks. Unless the rash is causing symptoms that are significant or severe, treatment is entirely unnecessarily and only beneficial for the sake of comfort. The most typical symptoms are itching, which can easily be treated with over-the-counter topical creams or oral antihistamines. Even with these treatments, however, the rash will continue to last for its entirety, and the only things being treated are the actual symptoms.
In some cases, the itching may be treated via sunlight although too much exposure to heat could easily just make the itching worse. To avoid overheating and increasing itchiness, you should keep from exercising, staying outside too long, and taking hot showers or baths. Other potential home remedies include keeping the rash lubricated with plain lotions and moisturizers, steroid creams, oral OTC medications for itching, and exposure to natural sunlight for 10 to 15 minutes every day. You might also choose to bathe or shower in lukewarm water or apply menthol or calamine lotions.
Other natural home remedies may also help to ease the itching and severity of the appearance of the rash although you should always speak to a doctor before trying any home remedy, as there is a chance that certain remedies could actually make your condition worse. Topical remedies are generally meant to ease the itchiness and irritation of the rash and may include natural ingredients such as aloe vera, oatmeal (in a soaking bath), coconut oil, neem leaf (boiled and put in a bath), lavender oil, safflower oil, tea tree oil, and calamine lotion.
Home Remedies for Pityriasis Rosea
Aloe vera gel is well-known for its ability to soothe the skin and calm down irritation. It has excellent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent infections, relieve itching and speed up the healing process. (1)
Take a fresh aloe leaf and cut it lengthwise. You can either apply it directly to the skin or use a spoon to scoop out the fresh gel. Apply the aloe gel to the affected areas of your skin two or three times a day for as long as necessary.
Oatmeal is not just a healthy breakfast meal. It can also be used to exfoliate, cleanse and moisturize the skin. Taking an oatmeal bath can help remove dead cells and grime from your skin and may help clear up the rash and ease the itching caused by pityriasis rosea. Sit back and soak up the natural goodness and take advantage of oatmeal’s excellent anti-inflammatory properties.
Simply add a cup or two of oatmeal to your bathtub. Use rolled oats and not the instant and flavored varieties of oatmeal. Mix the oatmeal in well. Hop into the bath and soak yourself for at least 20 minutes each day. This remedy can be used to treat a variety of other skin conditions including psoriasis and eczema.
Neem also known as Indian lilac is used to treat a variety of skin complaints. It has excellent anti-inflammatory actions as well as antiviral properties making it a good natural choice for pityriasis rosea. (2) It can help combat the virus responsible for the condition as well as soothing the irritation characteristic of it.
Boil up a large pot of water and throw in a food handful of leaves. Continue to boil the water for ten minutes or so. Let the water cool, strain and then use it as a wash every day. You could also use the neem water in a cold compress to soothe your irritation.
Virgin Coconut Oil
Organic, virgin coconut oil is full of medium-chain fatty acids that are perfect for the skin. It can help moisturize the skin as well as ease inflammation and irritation. Its antimicrobial properties also mean that it can help combat the germs responsible for the condition.
Simply soak a cotton ball in your coconut oil and apply it to the affected parts of your skin several times each day.
Lavender Essential Oil
A number of essential oils have antiviral properties that can help destroy the virus responsible for pityriasis rosea. Lavender oil is a great choice because of its gentle actions on the skin. It is one of the most popular and diverse of all essential oils because it tends not to cause irritation. Having said that, you should still dilute your lavender oil before applying it topically.
Dilute your lavender essential oil in a skin friendly carrier oil like coconut oil and apply it to your skin with a cotton ball. this should ease the itching and irritation in no time and may help accelerate healing.
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree essential oil is another natural remedy with a range of uses for the skin. It has excellent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory actions that can help treat the symptoms of pityriasis rosea.
Apply some diluted tea tree essential oil to the affected areas of your skin twice a day. This should calm the itching, inflammation and irritation and may well help you heal faster. Coconut oil makes a great carrier oil because of its own unique properties.
Calendula oil is made with marigold flowers. It has antimicrobial properties that can help soothe inflammation and itching and reduce the appearance of redness on the skin. It may also help increase the speed of recovery by encouraging the growth of the top layer of skin. (3) You can buy ready made calendula oil or make your own.
Apply your calendula oil to the affected areas of your skin twice a day for as long as necessary.
Plantain leaves have asringent and emollient properties as well as anti-inflammatory actions that can help soothe the irritation many people suffer when they have pityriasis rosea.
Blend some plantain leaves in a blender and add a little water to make a nice smooth paste. Apply the paste to the affected parts of your skin and let it work for at least 30 minutes before rinsing it off. repeat daily for as long as you need.
Comfrey contains a therapeutic compound called allantoin. Like plantain leaves, comfrey has emollient and astringent properties making it good for your skin while the anti-inflammatory actions can help reduce the irritation characteristic of pityriasis rosea.
Wash a handful of comfrey leaves and root and put it in a jar. Fill the jar with olive oil and blend until the mixture is fine. Pour the end product into a bowl and heat up the bowl in hot water. Let it cool and then repeat the process. Strain out the mixture and use it in a compress several times a day.
Eat Garlic and Flaxseed
There are also some home remedies with natural ingredients you can ingest that are reported to help your skin heal. There is no evidence that these remedies will actually make the rash go away faster, though, so you should be careful before trying any of these. It is said that ingesting things like raw garlic and flaxseed can help reduce itchiness and inflammation, as well as treat the infection.
If you are attempting to treat your pityriasis rosea at home, remember that the rash doesn’t actually require any treatment to disappear, as it will go away on its own with time. Always speak with a doctor to make sure your planned home remedies won’t make things worse or irritate your skin even more. In many cases, certain remedies said to help dry skin or reduce inflammation or itching may actually increase those same issues, depending on your specific skin type and other circumstances.
Pityriasis Rosea During Pregnancy
One serious side effect of pityriasis rosea when it appears during the first 15 weeks of pregnancy is that the woman’s risk of miscarrying increases. Children born to mothers who were affected by pityriasis rosea are often born prematurely. If you are pregnant, you should see a doctor frequently to check for signs of similar diseases, like pityriasis rosea, that are unable to be prevented in any way.
How Is Pityriasis Rosea Diagnosed?
Pityriasis rosea is usually very easy to diagnose just by looking at the rash although a doctor may also order tests such as scrapings, a blood test, or a biopsy to be sure of the virus’ presence. Characteristics of the rash caused by pityriasis rosea are easily recognizable due to the distinct mother or herald patch and the Christmas tree pattern of daughter patches surrounding it. The herald patch will also have a distinct, scaly border called the “collarette”.
With that said, there are several misdiagnoses of pityriasis rosea that a doctor might want to rule out by performing other tests, like the scraping, blood test, or biopsy mentioned before. Pityriasis rosea may sometimes be misdiagnosed as several different types of skin conditions and diseases, such as secondary syphilis, eczema, psoriasis, a fungal infection, pityriasis lichenoides chronica, parapsoriasis, lichen planus, or a drug eruption (a rash caused by a bad reaction to some kind of medication).
What to Do if You Have Been Diagnosed
If you have been diagnosed with pityriasis rosea by a doctor, you don’t need to worry. Pityriasis rosea is generally harmless and doesn’t even require treatment, as it will typically go away on its own within six to nine, maybe twelve, weeks. After it has disappeared, it is unlikely to return and you shouldn’t be left with any permanent scars from the rash. In some cases, you may experience temporary discoloration, called post inflammatory hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation, if you have darker skin.
Although there are no symptoms and no need for treatment, some treatment may be prescribed by a doctor to ease the itchiness that some people may experience with the rash. Luckily, there are many home remedies people can use to prevent the itching symptoms as they wait for the rash to run its course and disappear.
Pityriasis Rosea Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have pityriasis rosea?
If you think you might have pityriasis rosea, you should probably visit a doctor and have them diagnose you properly, as there may be other conditions with which you could be confusing your rash. A doctor might just need to look at your rash to know, or he or she might order some tests, such as a scraping, biopsy, or blood test, to determine the condition definitively.
How did I get pityriasis rosea? Is it contagious?
Unfortunately, experts don’t know the causes of pityriasis rosea yet. We do, however, know that it’s not contagious, so you didn’t get it from somebody else. It is generally believed to be a viral infection, and some doctors have connected it to a form of herpes.
Will I get pityriasis rosea again if I’ve already had it?
Once you’ve had the pityriasis rosea rash, it is very unlikely for you to get it again. Even if you do, however, the rash is harmless and typically doesn’t come with any severe or significant symptoms. All you need to do is wait for it to disappear on its own and maybe take some medication to help with the potential itching.
I have pityriasis rosea. Now what do I do?
If you’ve been diagnosed with pityriasis rosea, all you need to do is listen to your doctor and wait for the rash to go away on its own. If the itching is uncomfortable, you can always speak with your doctor about a medication or home remedy that may help reduce the itching or inflammation. You should avoid trying home remedies without speaking to your doctor first, especially since pityriasis rosea doesn’t actually require treatment, anyway.
- Pityriasis rosea is a skin condition that can cause a rash and irritation.
- It is not contagious and is harmless so there is no need to worry about it.
- There are plenty of home remedies that can soothe the symptoms.
- Aloe vera gel and essential oils like lavender are great choices bit there are plenty more.
- If you are pregnant, you should speak to your doctor since the condition can cause complications during pregnancy.