Pityriasis Rosea

Bethany Cook; Charles E. Crutchfield, III


Dermatology Nursing. 2006;18(4):370 

Pityriasis rosea (PR) is an acute inflammatory skin disorder characterized by erythematous scaling papules and macules.

PR lesions are most commonly distributed over the trunk and proximal extremities. Papules may be arranged parallel to the lines of cleavage on the trunk in a characteristic Christmas tree-like pattern. Body surfaces with significant sun exposure are usually not affected.

The cause of the disease is unknown, although viral etiology is suggested.

A solitary pink scaling annular patch is the distinguishing hallmark of PR (see Figure 1). This herald patch is first noticeable as a small erythematous papule, but progresses into a round plaque or patch of 2 cm to 10 cm in diameter.

A solitary pink scaling annular patch is the distinguishing hallmark of pityriasis rosea.

PR is most often asymptomatic. Pruritic symptoms may be relieved with UVB phototherapy, mild topical corticosteroids, and oral antihistamines. UVB phototherapy may also decrease the normal course of the condition by expediting papule involution.

PR progresses rapidly from the single herald patch into multiple lesions over the course of 2 to 5 days. New papules develop over the next few weeks, but lesions gradually resolve within 6 to 8 weeks.

Educate patient on the normal course of the condition. Reassure patient that the condition is benign and self-limited in nature. Advise patient on the proper use of topical corticosteroids and instructions for UVB phototherapy treatments.


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