Pityriasis Rosea

Pityriasis rosea is a skin disease. It is also known as rosy lichen.

Pityriasis Rosea

What is pityriasis rosea?

Pityriasis rosea is an inflammatory skin disease. In medicine, it is also known as rose lichen or scale rose . The onset of the disease is abrupt and lasts a few weeks, in some cases even several months. See definitionexplorer for Ichthyosis Definitions.

Children and young people between the ages of 10 and 35 are particularly affected by pityriasis rosea. The lichen appears twice as often in females as in males. Pityriasis rosea occurs to the same extent in all regions of the world.

The disease breaks out most frequently in the spring and autumn months. One of the typical features of rosy lichen is its scaly reddening, which primarily appears on the upper body.


The exact causes of pityriasis rosea have not yet been determined. Numerous physicians suspect that special human herpes viruses of types 6 and 7 are responsible for the skin disease. The pathogens, which bear the designations HHV-6 and HHV-7, show similarities to the herpesviruses HHV-1 and HHV-2, which in turn cause infections such as genital herpes and herpes simplex.

The human herpesviruses have the property of continuing to hide in the human body after an initial infection. Certain triggers make it possible for the viruses to react again, which then multiply again and cause another disease. It is therefore assumed that the pathogens HHV-6 and HHV-7 also have this ability.

The initial infection is usually symptom-free. By reactivating the herpes viruses, pityriasis rosea arises from inside the body, so to speak. However, this requires certain triggers that have not yet been identified. So it comes only in a few patients, in which the herpes viruses are, to a lichen.

In principle, there is no risk of infection from pityriasis rosea, but it is conceivable that sick people can pass the virus on to other people. After this symptom-free initial infection, it is quite possible that erysipelas will develop later, provided that the germs are activated again by the specific trigger.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Pityriasis rosea first becomes noticeable through the development of a so-called primary medallion on the trunk of the body. What is meant by this is a primary spot that is about one centimeter in size. In some patients, the spot also shows up on the abdomen, back, hairline, inner forearms, or thighs.

As it progresses, the primary medallion increases in size and develops a reddish frill of scales. Because the scaling is directed inwards, it is often overlooked. One to two weeks later, further scaly redness develops in an elongated or oval shape.

However, they are considerably smaller than the primary medallion and reach a maximum diameter of one centimeter. They are usually found on the upper body. In some cases, they also develop in the areas of the thighs and upper arms near the torso, where they extend transversely in the direction of the body axis.

The patches do not usually cause itching. If it does, it is usually only of a minor nature. However, when the skin dries out due to intensive bathing or sweating, it can become more itchy, which is associated with severe redness. Other symptoms such as headaches, loss of appetite or tiredness only appear in rare cases.

Overall, pityriasis rosea is classified as a harmless disease. However, there is a risk of pregnancy for the unborn child, which is particularly true for illnesses before the 15th week of pregnancy (GW). There is a risk of premature birth or miscarriage. Significantly fewer complications occur after the 15th week of pregnancy.

Diagnosis & course of disease

The doctor can usually diagnose pityriasis rosea based on the typical symptoms. For this purpose, the patient is thoroughly questioned and examined. The distribution of the redness over the body and whether a single change is greater than the others plays an important role. The doctor also wants to know about other symptoms.

If there is any doubt, a biopsy (tissue removal) of the skin can be carried out. The sample is then analyzed microscopically. The course of pityriasis rosea is positive. Even without therapy, the skin disease heals within three to eight weeks. Sometimes, however, the scaly redness remains on the skin for several months. Then they also form again.


Due to pityriasis rosea, those affected usually suffer from skin problems. These can appear in different regions of the body and usually lead to a significantly reduced quality of life for the patient. Those affected suffer from spots that have a reddish color. The patches themselves are not itchy or flaky.

In many cases, patients are ashamed of the symptoms of pityriasis rosea and suffer from reduced self-esteem or inferiority complexes. This can lead to depression or other psychological problems, especially in children. The skin itself is very dry and susceptible to various infections. In many cases, pityriasis rosea also leads to loss of appetite or headaches.

Permanent fatigue can also occur as a result of the disease and has a very negative effect on the patient’s everyday life. Treatment of pityriasis rosea is carried out without complications with the help of drugs. As a rule, a positive course of the disease occurs relatively quickly. However, the disease can reappear later in the life of the person affected.

When should you go to the doctor?

Pityriasis rosea must always be treated by a doctor. This can prevent further complications and discomfort. Early diagnosis and treatment have a very positive effect on the further course of the disease. A doctor must be consulted for pityriasis rosea when the person suffers from patches on the skin that appear without any particular reason and do not go away on their own.

The spots can appear in very different places and thus also have a negative impact on the aesthetics of the patient. Scales also often appear on these patches and the patches are associated with itching. Extremely dry skin can also indicate pityriasis rosea and must be treated by a doctor. The disease is also manifested by permanent fatigue and loss of appetite.

Pityriasis rosea is usually treated by a general practitioner or a dermatologist. The disease can be treated relatively easily, so that in most cases there is a rapid positive course of the disease without complications. This usually does not reduce the life expectancy of the patient.

Treatment & Therapy

As a rule, pityriasis rosea does not require any special treatment as it heals on its own. However, it makes sense to regularly apply a nourishing cream to the skin, which improves the itching and scaling. To avoid skin irritation, it is advisable to avoid hot and long baths or showers.

The same applies to visits to the sauna or sporting activities that trigger heavy sweating. Wearing clothing that is too tight can also have an unfavorable effect. To treat itchy redness, the use of the active ingredient polidocanol is recommended. A weak cortisone preparation can also help. In the case of extreme itching, light therapy is considered useful.

Outlook & Forecast

Pityriasis rosea is also known as erysipelas or Gilbert’s disease. The prognosis for this skin ringworm is generally good. Pityriasis rosea is neither contagious nor dangerous. It is known that the inflamed, reddened and scaly spots heal on their own within six to eight weeks. Therefore, the prognosis for pityriasis rosea is extremely good.

In a very small number of cases, erysipelas reappears at some point as a recurrence. However, this is not the case for more than 2 percent of those affected. In particular, women are more likely to be affected by lichen than men. Pityriasis rosea usually occurs at a young age, between the ages of 10 and 35. It has not yet been possible to clarify why pityriasis rosea or pityriasis recurs.

The outbreak of the disease is usually in a single changed skin area. These are what medical professionals call a “primary locket” or “mother plate.” After that, the inflamed areas spread further. Only the face, as well as the hands and feet, are spared from the red-bordered areas of inflammation. The disease is described by medical professionals as self-limiting. Treatment is usually not necessary due to the absence of symptoms.

The prognosis for erysipelas is good even if itchy skin cells are present. If necessary, these can be treated with ointments against itching.


It is not possible to prevent pityriasis rosea because the exact causes of the skin disease are not known. Pregnant women should consult their gynecologist as soon as possible in the event of illness.


In most cases, those affected by pityriasis rosea have very few follow-up measures available. The disease should first and foremost be recognized and treated by a doctor at an early stage, so that there are no further complications or other symptoms. The sooner a doctor is consulted, the better the further course of the disease.

Those affected should therefore consult a doctor at the first signs and symptoms of the disease. In most cases, pityriasis rosea is treated by using various creams and ointments. The person concerned should always follow the doctor’s instructions and observe the correct dosage with regular use.

If anything is unclear or if you have any questions, you should consult a doctor first, and you should also consult a doctor if you have any side effects. As a rule, regular check-ups by a doctor are very important for pityriasis rosea in order to monitor the condition of the skin over the long term. The disease usually does not reduce the life expectancy of those affected, although it is usually not possible to make a general prediction about the further course.

You can do that yourself

Direct self-help is usually not available to those affected with pityriasis rosea. Treatment cannot be carried out easily either, since the disease is still largely unexplored. However, the symptoms usually disappear on their own after a short period of time.

The patient can regularly apply a moisturizer to their skin to relieve discomfort and speed up the healing process. Likewise, despite the itching, the skin should not be scratched as this will only further damage the skin. Hot and long baths should also be avoided. If possible, the patient should also avoid showering or only wash the skin with a pH-neutral lotion. In some cases, preparations containing cortisone can also be used to relieve the symptoms of pityriasis rosea. Tight clothing should also be avoided. The patient should also avoid strong and direct sunlight in order to further damage or irritate the skin.

The disease cannot be actively prevented and it can recur over the course of life. Further measures are usually not required.