Treatment of Pityriasis Rosea

Pityriasis rosea (PR) is a transient skin condition which resolves in the majority of individuals. It usually last anywhere from 4-8 weeks. In about 70% of individuals the rash may itch. In general, there is no specific treatment for PR. The following conservative treatments have been recommended:

Itch: If the itch is severe, apply a moisturizer. Most lotions will soothe the itch.

Compress: Sometimes a cold compress can be applied if the rash is severe. The cool compresses should be applied every 3-4 hrs for 20 minutes.

Hot showers: Because the rash can intensify during periods of warm weather and heat, one should avoid warm water or hot showers.

Anti histamines: Sometimes the itch is severe and not relieved with any moisturizers or cold compress. In such cases, an antihistamine may help to relieve the itch. There are a few generic anti histamines which are available over the counter.

Corticosteroids: Sometimes a topical corticosteroid can be applied over the rash when the itch is severe. There are low potency corticosteroids which are available over the counter and they are effective. The itch is not that severe to require oral steroids.

Anti fungals: Because the rash in PR is often mistaken for a fungal infection, many individuals routinely apply anti fungal creams. This is not effective and a waste of money.

Antibiotics: Some individuals believe that the rash is caused by a bacteria and take antibiotics. Again, there is no evidence that PR is due to an infection and antibiotics do not shorten the duration of the rash

Sun: There is some evidence that moderate exposure to sun may help resolve the rash. However, this is not a universal finding and some individuals get a worsening of the color.

Irrespective of any treatment, PR resolves on its own in the majority of cases. Less than 3% of individuals get a recurrence.

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