Pityriasis Rosea: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 1/25/2021

Pityriasis rosea is a common condition that causes a characteristic skin rash. It typically affects young people between the ages of 10 and 35.

Signs and symptoms of pityriasis rosea begin with a single, large pink, scaly plaque called the "herald patch," typically measuring 2-10 centimeters. The herald patch is a slightly scaly, dry pink to red plaque that appears on the back, chest, or neck. It has a well-defined, scaly border. Over the following weeks, a crop of smaller lesions develops on the trunk, arms, and legs. These range in size from 0.5 to 1.5 cm. The rash may take on a gray or black color in people with darker skin. The face, hands, and feet are usually unaffected. The rash usually lasts for 6-9 weeks.

Cause of pityriasis rosea

While the exact cause is unknown, medical professionals believe it is associated with a viral infection with a virus from the human herpesvirus family called human herpesvirus-6 and/or 7 (HHV-6, HHV-7).

Other pityriasis rosea symptoms and signs

  • Herald Patch, a Single Large Pink, Scaly Plaque on the Neck, Chest, or Back
  • Smaller Lesions on the Arms, Legs, and Trunk


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.