Pityriasis Rosada: What is it? Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

It is a mild but common skin condition that is characterized by a pink, ovoid, and scaly rash.

Although it can occur at any age, it is seen most often in people between the ages of 10 and 35 years.

Pityriasis rosea is usually harmless and has a natural course some weeks.

There are no medications or treatments available to shorten your course.

This disease appears most frequently in the months of spring and autumn.

Causes of pityriasis rosea

It is a skin rash probably caused by some viruses of the human herpes virus family 6 and 7, which cause rubella in children.

It commonly occurs in adults and young people ages 10 to 35, but it can occur at any age.

It is not considered to be contagious, since the rash does not seem to spread from person to person.


The eruption usually begins with a large spot on the trunk called the “herald” patch because it announces the appearance of an eruption spread several days later.

The spots spread over the body to cover the trunk and the upper part of the arms (a “t-shirt” type distribution) and the upper part of the legs.

Rarely, the rash may cover the neck and face.

The spots turn into oval spots (about the size of a coin) of salmon-colored or copper-colored skin with scaly margins.

The size of the patch varies from 2 to 10 cm.

The patches on the back are usually vertical and angled to form an appearance of “Christmas tree” or “fir tree”.

About 50% of patients may have some minor discomfort from itching.

These rashes can usually last 6 to 8 weeks, and extend up to several months.

Sometimes rounded (papular) protrusions are seen in small infants, pregnant women, and people with dark skin.

Blisters (vesicles) can be seen in infants and young children.

In some people, the herald’s patch may not appear, or two herald patches may appear too close together. Before the Heraldo patch is visible, it is common for the patient to feel tired and with symptoms similar to the cold.

Patients may experience headaches, nausea, sore throat and loss of appetite.

The eruption of pityriasis rosea can be confused with similar eruptions such as:

Ringworm, eczema, psoriasis, syphilis and those caused by some medications such as antibiotics.

Recurrence of the disease is rare, once the rash and itching subside.

Diagnosis of pityriasis rosea

The diagnosis can be difficult when only the herald patch is seen, since the condition is often confused with ringworm or eczema at this time.

After the rash appears, the diagnosis is usually clear.

To clarify the diagnosis, the doctor will order:

A mycological test of potassium hydroxide to rule out that the rash was not caused by a fungal infection.

A sample of skin from the infected area to perform a biopsy.

In the case of a sexually active person, differential diagnoses should often be performed, such as serological screening for syphilis.

Also the fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption test for syphilis, HIV serology respectively.


Pityriasis rosada disappears without any type of treatment.

To alleviate the symptoms associated with pink piritiasis, it is recommended to treat mainly itching throughout the body.

Doctors recommend to treat itching, use ointments or creams with corticosteroids such as mometasone , hydrocortisone or triancinolone.

Other topical options can also be requested with moisturizers, menthol or calamine, which cause fewer side effects than corticosteroids.

If the patient has difficulty sleeping due to pruritus, first-generation antihistamines can be recommended , which cause sleepiness, as in the case of hydroxyzine .

The patient should keep cool, since excessive heat and sweating can make the rash and itching worse.

Hot showers should be avoided, at the time of bathing the water should be kept as cold as can be tolerated.

You should limit the amount of soap and use mild soaps, such as Basis, Cetaphil or Dove.