Pityriasis rosea is a very common and noncontagious skin rash which could appear at any age between 10 and 35 years. But the prevalence of this skin disorder is not restricted only to this age limit; rather it could appear at any age. The real cause behind this skin ailment is still unknown. Nevertheless, according to some experts it might be a virus-infested disorder.
The onset of this skin disease is distinguished by the appearance of large flaking patches found on the back. They are often red or pink in color and oval in shape with a prominent edge which is known as herald patch. Most of them measure 2 cm to 10 cm, out of which the larger size is found to be more common. Within a few days or weeks relatively smaller patches of 1 cm to 2 cm size appear on other portions of chest, back, and the abdomen. They might even spread up to the legs, but hardly do they tend to grow on the face. Most of these patches have a great resemblance with ringworm.
However unlike ringworm, pityriasis rosea is not a fungus-generated skin disorder and therefore it never responds to antifungal medications. The patches that appear on the back are either vertical or angular and often form a pattern like a Christmas tree. Itching is a not a very common phenomenon associated with this skin ailment. But when the affected skin surface is exposed to heat, it might result in mild to severe itching.
It has been found that sometimes the rashes take a different turn and form either papular rash which is more common in children as well as adults or vesicular rash usually found in infants and young children. In papular rash the patches are protuberant whereas vesicular patches are marked by blisters on the affected zones.
The herald patches bear considerable significance in identifying the symptoms of pityriasis rosea. Even in some cases the herald patches might be totally absent. Yet in some other cases there might be more than one herald patches. The onset of the herald patches is marked by some eminent symptoms for example, nausea, headache, tiredness as if one has caught cold, sore throat, loss of appetite etc.
Aside from ringworm, the traits of this skin rash also bear similarity with a few other ailments like psoriasis, eczema, and tinea versicolor. Another rash caused by syphilis and certain antibiotic medications also bears similar properties like pityriasis rosea.
Since this skin problem bears a wide resemblance with many other skin disorders, it is really confusing to identify and diagnose this skin rash precisely. Therefore the diagnosis is done by experienced dermatologists on the basis of intense observation and a few other tests. The whole diagnostic procedure might be disturbed or misled due to the emergence of the herald patch alone, without showing up any rash. It is very likely to be mistaken as ringworm or something else at this stage. However, as soon as the rash appears, the diagnosis becomes evident. Sometimes the dermatologists administer a potassium hydroxide test or KOH test in order to confirm whether it is really pityriasis rosea or any fungal problem.
Healing Methodology pityriasis rosea
This is a very simple and harmless skin rash and therefore in most of the cases they generally heal up after 6 to 8 months without any treatment. Some soothing or lubricant skin lotion might be needed in order to relieve the itching. However, sometimes the conditions might aggravate which requires intense medical intervention. Corticosteroids are sometimes used in order to alleviate excessive itching and the rashes too. 1% hydrocortisone cream which is an over-the-counter product might generate soothing effect on the itching areas. Nonprescription antihistamine medications are also suggested as effective solution for this type of skin rashes.
Exposure to sunlight has been found to be an effective and quick healing method for pityriasis rosea. However, staying too long under the sun might invite other adverse impacts on the skin.
Although sun exposure is an effective healing substitute, hot bath or any other exposure to heat is strictly a no-no. Also it is often advised to try oatmeal bath which helps relieving excessive itching problems. Never use soaps or at least try to use the mild ones. Calamine or moisturizing lotions applied on moist skin right after bath is also a good way to heal up.