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When Your Child Has Pityriasis Rosea
Outline of child from back showing rash on back. One large spot of rash is herald patch.
With pityriasis rosea, an itchy rash appears on the back and chest. It often starts with a single large patch called a “herald patch.”

Pityriasis rosea is kind of itchy skin rash that appears on the back and chest. It often starts with a single, large oval patch called a herald patch. Smaller patches may appear a few days later. Pityriasis rosea occurs more often in older children and teenagers, but anyone can get it. It can cause your child mild discomfort, but it is not a serious problem. It can easily be managed and treated at home.

What causes pityriasis rosea?

The cause of pityriasis rosea is unknown. It doesn’t usually spread from person to person.

What are the symptoms of pityriasis rosea?

Pityriasis rosea causes a rash made up of small, oval, or round marks. The marks are scaly and pink or light brown. Sometimes the rash spreads in a Christmas-tree pattern on the back. It can also cause itching.

How is pityriasis rosea diagnosed?

Pityriasis rosea is diagnosed by how it looks. The healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. He or she will also examine your child. You will be told if any tests are needed.

How is pityriasis rosea treated?

  • Pityriasis rosea may cause itching for 1 to 2 weeks. It generally goes away on its own within 6 to 8 weeks. Most children get better without treatment.

  • Give your child over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine medicine to relieve itching. These types of medicine may cause sleepiness.

  • Apply an OTC medicine, such as hydrocortisone cream, to the skin to relieve itching. Wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after you apply the medicine.

  • Exposure to UV radiation may help decrease itching and the duration of the rash.

  • A small amount of natural sunlight (5 to 10 minutes a day for several days) may be beneficial in relieving more significant itching.

  • Talk with your healthcare provider about any severe itching, some prescription medicines may be helpful.

Call the healthcare provider if your child has any of the following:

  • Rash that worsens or becomes painful

  • Itching that does not respond to home treatment

What are the long-term concerns?

After healing, your child’s skin may appear darker or lighter in the affected areas. This color change will fade over time.

© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.