Diagnosis

In most cases, your doctor can identify pityriasis rosea simply by looking at the rash. He or she may take a small scraping of the rash for testing, as this condition can sometimes be confused with ringworm (tinea corporis).

Treatment

In most cases, pityriasis rosea goes away on its own in four to 10 weeks. If the rash doesn't disappear by then or if the itching is bothersome, talk with your doctor about treatments that can help. The condition clears up without scarring and usually doesn't recur.

Medications

If home remedies don't ease symptoms or shorten the duration of pityriasis rosea, your doctor may prescribe medicine. Examples include:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Antihistamines
  • Antiviral drugs, such as acyclovir (Zovirax)

Light therapy

Exposure to natural or artificial sunlight may help the rash fade. Light therapy may cause lasting darkening in certain spots, even after the rash clears.

Lifestyle and home remedies

The following tips may help relieve the discomfort of pityriasis rosea:

  • Take over-the-counter allergy medicine (antihistamines). These include diphenhydramine (Benadryl, others).
  • Bathe or shower in lukewarm water.
  • Take an oatmeal bath. You can find oatmeal bath products at your pharmacy.
  • Apply a moisturizer, calamine lotion or an over-the-counter corticosteroid cream.

Preparing for your appointment

You're likely to start by seeing your primary care doctor. He or she may refer you to a doctor who specializes in skin disorders (dermatologist).

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

  • List any symptoms you're experiencing, including those that seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
  • List key personal information, including any major illnesses, stresses and recent life changes.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements you're taking, including the dosage information.
  • List questions to ask your doctor.

For pityriasis rosea, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What's the most likely cause of this rash?
  • What are other possible causes for my symptoms?
  • I have another health condition. Could it be related to the skin rash?
  • Is this skin condition temporary or long lasting?
  • Will this rash leave permanent scars?
  • What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
  • Will treatment for the skin rash interact with other treatments I'm receiving?
  • What are possible side effects of this treatment?
  • Will the treatment help ease the itching? If not, how can I treat the itching?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you questions about your symptoms and possible causes. Questions to expect include:

  • When did you first begin to notice the rash?
  • Have you had this type of rash in the past?
  • Are you experiencing symptoms? If so, what are they?
  • Have your symptoms changed over time?
  • Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
July 02, 2015
References
  1. Pityriasis rosea. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic_disorders/psoriasis_and_scaling_diseases/pityriasis_rosea. Accessed April 29, 2015.
  2. Goldstein AO, et al. Pityriasis rosea. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 29, 2015.
  3. Habif TP. Psoriasis and other papulosquamous diseases. In: Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th ed. Maryland Heights, Mo.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 28, 2015.
  4. Kliegman RM, et al. Diseases of the epidermis. In: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 23, 2012.
  5. AskMayoExpert. Pityriasis rosea. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
  6. Pityriasis rosea. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org. Accessed April 28, 2015.
  7. Honigsmann H. UVB therapy (broadband and narrowband). http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 29, 2015.