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Pityriasis Rosea

What is Pityriasis Rosea?

Pityriasis rosea is a characteristic skin condition, which commonly affects people between the ages of 10 and 35, but may occur at any age. The rash usually lasts from several weeks to several months. It is thought to be triggered by a virus but this condition is not contagious.


​Pityriasis rosea often begins with a single large, scaly, pink patch on the trunk, called a “herald” patch. A widespread rash usually follows one to two weeks later. The rash occurs on the trunk, limbs and neck, but rarely involves the face. The typical rash consists of small, oval pink to brown scaly patches arrange along the skin creases, giving an appearance of a ‘Christmas tree’ on the back.  The rash is itchy in about half of the affected patients. It usually fades and disappears within six to eight weeks, but can sometimes last much longer. The patient is often otherwise well throughout the course of the rash.

When to seek medical advice

See your doctor if:

  • You're so uncomfortable with the condition that it affects your quality of life
  • You’re bothered by the cosmesis of the condition
  • There is widespread involvement
Treatment and drugs

​Most people do not need any treatment. If your skin is itchy a moisturiser may help. Antihistamine tablets may also help. If the rash is still uncomfortable, a mild steroid cream cream can be applied twice a day. If the itch is still severe despite these treatments, your doctor may suggest a stronger steroid cream or treatment with ultraviolet light.

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