Pityriasis rosea is a common skin rash seen mostly in teenagers and young adults. It often begins as 1 or 2 large ring-shaped scaly patches followed within several days by a more widespread eruption of smaller oval red or brown scaly patches. These are usually evenly distributed on the back, chest, abdomen and upper arms and legs. Itching may or may not occur.
Pityriasis rosea is caused by an unknown virus that gets into the body's system but only rarely causes flu symptoms like fever or aches. Most people feel well aside from the rash. There is no known treatment that can kill the virus. The rash gradually resolves on it's own but often lasts 4-8 weeks altogether. The rash does resolve completely, without any permanent scars or color changes to the skin. Like other viruses, once the rash resolves you become immune to the virus and recurrences of the rash are unlikely. Most people are already immune to the virus that causes pityriasis rosea and therefore the rash is not very contagious.
Cortisone creams can be applied to the rash to at least help improve redness and itching symptoms but there is no known therapy that will make the rash go away faster than nature does on it's own. Modest amounts of outdoor sunshine may have some benefit. If the rash persists beyond 10 weeks then you should follow up in the office for further evaluation.
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