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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What is the treatment for pityriasis rosea?

Pityriasis rosea usually requires no treatment and resolves spontaneously. Treatment is not necessary if the rash does not cause significant problems. Typically, pityriasis rosea will usually clear on its own within 6-8 weeks without medical intervention.

The most common symptom is itching, which can be treated with topical steroid creams (like hydrocortisone cream) and oral antihistamines (like diphenhydramine [Benadryl], loratadine [Claritin], etc.). These will not shorten the duration of the rash but will decrease the itching. Another treatment for itching is ultraviolet light (UVB) or sunlight. Generally, the best treatment is to avoid being overheated by reducing exercise and avoiding hot showers and baths.

There has been limited evidence of reduced duration of pityriasis rosea with the off-label use of the antibiotic erythromycin or off-label use of antiviral medications such as acyclovir (Zovirax) or famciclovir (Famvir). However, neither of these medications has been proven to be uniformly effective in the treatment of pityriasis rosea and they are not usually necessary or required.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/25/2016

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