Pitryriasis rosea (PR) is a relatively common skin rash that is thought to be caused by a virus, as it often occurs after an upper respiratory infection. PR typically starts with one large pink patch on the torso, which is called a “herald patch.” Within a relatively short period of time, numerous smaller pink spots appear on the skin, usually on the chest, back, arms, and legs. The face is usually not involved.
PR typically occurs in younger individuals, teenagers and young adults, although on occasion older adults can be affected. The classic appearance of a PR spot is an oval pink spot with a ring of scale around the edge of the spot. Sometimes the rash is very itchy; other times it is not. The rash is not usually accompanied by any other symptoms; most people feel completely well.
The rash is self-limited; it typically resolves within two months, and then it slowly fades. If the itching is bothersome or severe, a patient can be treated with over-the-counter anti-itch lotions and soothing oatmeal baths. Topical steroids and antihistamines can be prescribed if necessary. Ultraviolet light exposure can speed up resolution. This can be achieved with controlled exposure to natural sunlight or office-based ultraviolet light treatments.