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Pityriasis Rosea in Children

What is pityriasis rosea in children?

Pityriasis rosea is a mild, common rash. It causes the skin to be scaly, pink, and inflamed. The rash can last from 1 to 3 months and usually leaves no lasting marks. This rash is not thought to be contagious.

How to say it

piht-uh-RI-uh-sis ROH-zee-uh

What causes pityriasis rosea in a child?

Experts don’t know what causes pityriasis rosea. It is believed to be caused by a virus. It is usually seen in children, teens, 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 in a child?

The rash often starts with a large pink or tan oval area on the chest, stomach, or back. This patch (herald patch) is often followed by smaller pink or tan patches elsewhere on the body. They often show up on the back, neck, arms, and legs. The scaly rash often 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:

  • Severe tiredness (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 in a child?

The rash is fairly unique. Pityriasis rosea is often diagnosed based on a health history and physical exam of your child. Your child may also need blood tests to rule out other conditions that might look like pityriasis rosea.

How is pityriasis rosea treated in a child?

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 ease symptoms, such as itching. The rash will go away 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 doesn't get better or gets worse.

  • Itching or other symptoms cause your child a lot of discomfort.

  • Your child gets a secondary bacterial infection from scratching the rash.

Key points about pityriasis rosea in children

  • Pityriasis rosea is a mild, common rash. It causes the skin to be scaly, pink, and inflamed.

  • The rash is often seen in children, teens, and young adults.

  • The rash will get better on its own in 1 to 3 months.

  • Pityriasis rosea is not thought to be contagious.

  • The goal of treatment is easing discomfort and itching.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.

  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.

  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.

  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also know what the side effects are.

  • Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.

  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.

  • Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.

  • 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 healthcare provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.

Online Medical Reviewer: Dan Brennan MD
Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Michael Lehrer MD
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2023
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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