Pityriasis Rosea

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Who gets pityriasis rosea?

Pityriasis rosea is, for the most part, equally common in men and women. It generally occurs in children and young adults between 10-35 years of age. Pityriasis rosea has no racial predominance. Most people only develop pityriasis rosea once in their lifetime.

What causes pityriasis rosea?

The exact cause of pityriasis rosea remains unknown. Most recently, pityriasis rosea has been associated most strongly with a virus from the human herpes family called human herpes virus types 6 or 7. Pityriasis rosea is not caused by or known to be associated with the common types of herpes virus that causes genital, oral herpes, or varicella (chickenpox). While the mode of transmission (how it gets passed between people) of pityriasis rosea is also unknown, respiratory contact has been postulated. Pityriasis rosea does not seem to be directly or immediately contagious to close contacts or health-care providers exposed to the rash. Most people with a known exposure to pityriasis rosea do not seem to contract the rash.

What are pityriasis rosea symptoms and signs?

Most people do not notice any symptoms with pityriasis rosea except for the appearance of the rash itself. Mild, intermittent itching is reported in about 50% of individuals affected, especially when people exercise or take hot showers. Itching seems to increase with stress. Rarely, it is accompanied by flu-like symptoms, such as sore throat, fatigue, nausea, aching, and decreased appetite. Most people are otherwise in very good health and don't exhibit any other symptoms.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/25/2016

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