Pityriasis Rosea Pityriasis Rosea
The Free Medical Dictionary by Farlex
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Pityriasis Rosea Definition Pityriasis rosea is a mild, noncontagious skin disorder common among children and young adults, and characterized by a single round spot on the body, followed later by a rash of colored spots on the body and upper arms. Description Pityriasis rosea is most common in young adults, and appears up to 50% more often in women. Its cause is unknown; however, some scientists believe that the rash is an immune response to some type of infection in the body. Causes and symptoms Doctors do not think that pityriasis rosea is contagious, but the cause is unknown. Some experts suspect the rash, which is most common in spring and fall, may be triggered by a virus, but no infectious agent has ever been found. It is not sexually transmitted, and does not appear to be contagious from one person to the next. Sometimes, before the symptoms appear, people experience preliminary sensations including fever, malaise, sore throat, or headache. Symptoms begin with a single, large round spot called a "herald patch" on the body, followed days or weeks later by slightly raised, scaly-edged round or oval pink-copper colored spots on the trunk and upper arms. The spots, which have a wrinkled center and a sharp border, sometimes resemble a Christmas tree. They may be mild to severely itchy, and they can spread to other parts of the body. Diagnosis A physician can diagnose the condition with blood tests, skin scrapings, or a biopsy of the lesion. Treatment The rash usually clears up on its own, although a physician should rule out other conditions that may cause a similar rash (such as syphilis). Treatment includes external and internal medications for itching and inflammation. Mild inflammation and itching can be relieved with antihistamine drugs or calamine lotion, zinc oxide, or other mild lubricants or anti-itching creams. Gentle, soothing strokes should be used to apply the ointments, since vigorous rubbing may cause the lesions to spread. More severe itching and inflammation is treated with topical steroids. Moderate exposure to sun or ultraviolet light may help heal the lesions, but patients should avoid being sunburned. Soap makes the rash more uncomfortable; patients should bathe or shower with plain lukewarm water, and apply a thin coating of bath oil to freshly-dried skin afterwards. Key terms Antihistamines — A group of drugs that block the effects of histamine, a chemical released during an allergic reaction. Steroids — A group of drugs that includes the corticosteroids, similar to hormones produced by the adrenal glands, and used to relieve inflammation and itching. Prognosis These spots, which may be itchy, last for 3-12 weeks. Symptoms rarely recur.