Pityriasis Rosea

Pityriasis rosea is a rash that commonly start off within one small area before spreading to other areas of the body. It is thought to be due to a viral infection. It usually clears within a few months. The fastest method to clear up pityriasis rosea & to decrease symptoms such as itch, is with medical phototherapy.

Key Points

  •  This common rash often starts a week or two after flu like symptoms
  •  It starts off as a small patch, before spreading to the rest of your body
  • P. rosea normally resolves in a few months
  • Simple anti-inflammatory creams & phototherapy accelerates resolution
BOOK APPOINTMENT

Pityriasis Rosea at a glance

Best outcomes: Weeks
Procedure time: 5 minutes, phototherapy
Duration of results: Permanent
Back to work: Immediately
Recovery: 0 days
Anaesthetic: NA
Your specialist: Dermatologist, GP
How much: No charge, Medicare

Our results speak for themselves

Before

After

Before

After

Before

After

FAQs

What is pityriasis rosea?

This common rash is due to reactivation of Human Herpesvirus 6 & 7, however it can be due
to a whole heap of other viruses including COVID. It can also occur after the COVID
vaccine.

What does the rash look like?

Classic p.rosea start off as one patch (called a herald patch), after a few days to
weeks, it spreads to involve the body & limbs. Often, the patches are confined to the
upper body and follow the ribs in lines. Atypical variants can occur.
The rash lasts a few months before clearing up completely. If you require faster clearance, a treatment called phototherapy is under Medicare

How long does it take for it to resolve?

8-12 weeks on average. Some resolve within a month, others can take up to 6 months.
Light skin patients may have residual patches of skin colour changes after the infection
settles.

What is the best treatment for pityriasis rosea?

The aim of treatment is to –
1. Reduce the itch associated with this infection.
2. Clear up the rash as fast as possible.

How do I decrease the itch associated with pityriasis rosea?

Whilst awaiting phototherapy, you can do a few things to reduce itching.

  • Baths: keep cool, use Aveeno or QV Wash. Oatmeal baths if possible.
  • Lotions: Aqueous cream – keep in the fridge & apply as required. Use a fan.
  • Anti-inflammatory creams: can be prescribed by our team or your GP.
  • Antihistamines: Phenergan 10-50 mg at night. It will bomb you out.

How do I clear up the rash itself?

This can be done with cream or narrowband phototherapy or both. Remember that most
cases will settle within 10 weeks. Creams & phototherapy accelerate clearance.
Topical anti-inflammatory creams should be used in areas involved. For larger areas,
phototherapy is more useful.

What is phototherapy & how does it work?

Phototherapy is delivered in a medical light box. It’s very different from a tanning bed.
Medical phototherapy uses only one wavelength. It’s safe, efficient & effective. Light reduces
inflammation, clearing up the rash & reducing symptoms such as itch.
Learn more (link to phototherapy)

Is pityriasis rosea contagious?

No, it is not. Oh, it’s also unlikely that you will get the rash again (2% recurrence).

How much do treatments cost?

Phototherapy is of no charge as it is bulk billed via Medicare. 
Reception will discuss the appointment with you & advise you of charges (if there are any).

How to get treatments fast?

Call reception for a phototherapy slot that will be supervised by a dermatologist.
There is no charge for narrowband phototherapy as this is covered under Medicare .

Am I sick when I develop pityriasis rosea?

By the time the rash comes up, most patients are well. Most people will have a flu-
like illness the week preceding the rash.

What are other treatments that can help?

Our dermatologists can prescribe –

  • Oral anti-inflammatories including erythromycin macrolides
  • Antivirals
  • Wet wraps
  • Doxepin antihistamines & others

Products

Medik8 Physical Sunscreen SPF50+
$69.00

Dermaceutic All Things Pigment 21 Day Kit
$154.00

Narrowband phototherapy can markedly shorten the duration of pityriasis rosea, often improving the rash within a week of treatment. This treatment is fully covered under Medicare.

What is phototherapy?

This medical treatment uses UVB light via a specialized device that filters out the other

spectrums & delivers only one single wavelength. Phototherapy-

  • Reduces inflammation, & clears up pityriasis faster
  • Reduces itch
  • Aids in pigment formation post inflammation, normalizing skin colour

How many sessions will I need?

Between 3 to 8 weeks. Sessions are performed 2-3 times a week. Each session takes
between 30 second to just over 180 seconds. Your rash will start to improve after the 3rd to
4th treatment.

Does it recur?

Yes, it can recur in 2% of cases. That means once you get pityriasis rosea, the chances of
it coming back are rare!

What are the other variants of pityriasis rosea?

The most common variant is the patch followed by rash – the classic pityriasis rosea.
Other uncommon variants include-

  • Patch only
  •  Multiple patches with no rash
  • Rash only
  •  Atypical rash
  • Flexural variants
  • Chronic & recurrent

The less common variant occurs for 2% of pityriasis rosea cases.

Does pityriasis rosea scar?

No, but in light skin it can leave white patches that take 6 months to resolve. In darker skin
types, PIH can result, but pico lasers can fix that.

What other skin disorders can look like pityriasis rosea?

Your physician will be able to tell the difference between pityriasis rosea and other similar
conditions including –
Guttate psoriasis; smaller spots, can be tricky to diagnose as often follows a sore throat.
Scalp involvement in some, unlike pityriasis. Scale morphology is different. Pityriasis points
in.

Fungus, esp. Eruptive m.canis. Again, with pityriasis rosea, the scale is the give-away. If no
doubt, take a skin scraping. If you have cats, dogs, pups, guinea pigs, consider this.

Discoid eczema is common, it's itchier, & the scale is different compared to pityriasis
rosea.

Syphilis. If you got a rash on your hands, it’s probably not pityriasis rosea. See a specialist.

Drug eruption; can look like pityriasis rosea. You can figure it out by looking carefully at
your drug history & or stopping medications. Skin test biopsy can tell the difference.

Tinea versicolor: is finer than pityriasis & has not got the same scale type.
Relatively easy for us to tell the difference.

Are there tests that can help?

In over 90% of the time, we can tell if it’s pityriasis or another skin condition. If not, we
can perform a very small 2 mm skin biopsy or a simple skin scraping.

Who cannot have phototherapy?

If you have a personal or family history of melanoma,, you cannot have phototherapy.
Additionally, you should consider that you require 2-3 sessions over the course of 3-8
weeks.
Factor in the travel time.

What natural treatments can you try?

An oatmeal bath, aloe vera gel to relieve the itch, & natural sunlight.
UVB medical phototherapy is much more effective than natural UV as it concentrates light
exposure to only a few minutes.
You can take zinc supplements if you are into placebo treatments, or an anti-inflammatory
diet if you are bored. Diet has no scientific role in the management of pityriasis rosea.

What to consider before booking in for treatment?

  • Diagnosis. Pityriasis rosea is common, but other diagnoses are conserved in some cases.
  • Narrowband phototherapy logistics. You need to get here 2-3 times a week for 4-8

weeks

Who gets pityriasis rosea?

It’s most common in adults & teens, from 12 to mid 30s.
As it is a virus, Brisbane has a peak from April to August.

Ask us more about this treatment