Children's Health and Wellness

Pityriasis Rosea in Children

What is pityriasis rosea?

Pityriasis rosea (pit-uh-RI-uh-sis RO-zee-uh) is a mild, common rash. It causes the skin to become scaly, pink, and inflamed. The rash can last from 1 to 3 months and usually leaves no lasting marks. This rash is not contagious.

What causes pityriasis rosea?

Experts don’t know what causes pityriasis rosea. It is believed to be caused by a virus or bacteria. It is usually seen in children, adolescents, and young adults. Some children may have a cold before the rash. The rash is more common in spring and fall.

What are the symptoms of pityriasis rosea?

The rash usually starts with a pink or tan oval area on the chest, stomach, or back. The main patch is usually followed by smaller pink or tan patches elsewhere on the body. They usually show up on the back, neck, arms, and legs. The scaly rash usually begins to heal on its own in 4 to 6 weeks and will go away by 14 weeks.

Below are other common symptoms of pityriasis rosea. But each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Aches
  • Itching

The symptoms of pityriasis rosea may look like other skin conditions or health problems. Always talk with your child’s healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is pityriasis rosea diagnosed?

The rash is unique. Pityriasis rosea is usually diagnosed based on a health history and physical exam of your child. In addition, your child’s healthcare provider may order blood tests to rule out other conditions that might look like pityriasis rosea. 

How is pityriasis rosea treated?

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

The goal of treatment for pityriasis rosea is to relieve symptoms such as itching. The rash will resolve on its own. Treatment will be decided by your child’s healthcare provider based on how bad the rash is. Treatment may include:

  • Medicated lotions and creams
  • Medicines taken by mouth
  • Cool baths with or without oatmeal
  • Ultraviolet exposure
  • Cool compresses

When should I call my child’s healthcare provider?

Pityriasis rosea is a mild skin rash that will get better on its own. You should call your child’s healthcare provider if:

  • Your child becomes very sick.
  • The rash does not get better.
  • Your child gets a secondary bacterial infection from scratching the rash.

Key points about pityriasis rosea

  • Pityriasis rosea is a mild, common rash. It causes the skin to become scaly, pink, and inflamed.
  • The rash is usually seen in children, adolescents, and young adults.
  • The rash will get better on its own in 1 to 3 months.
  • Pityriasis rosea is not contagious.
  • The goal of treatment is relieving discomfort and itching.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s health care provider:
  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • At the visit, write down the names of new medicines, treatments, or tests, and any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.
  • If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your child’s provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.
Print Source: Domino, F. 5-Minute Clinical Consult. 2015, ed. 23.
Print Source: Pityriasis rosea. UptoDate
Online Source: Pityriasis Rosea, American Academy of Family Physicians
Online Source: Pityriasis Rosea, American Osteopathic College of Dermatology
Online Editor: Green, Chelsea
Online Editor: Lucuski, Cristina
Online Medical Reviewer: Berry, Judith, PhD, APRN
Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
Date Last Reviewed: 9/30/2015
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