Pityriasis rosea: a pathology that can scare us.

Pityriasis rosea is a benign, acute, self-limiting skin disease usually affecting children and young adults. The cause is unknown although it is thought to be viral (herpesvirus 7 is suggested as the main agent involved). IT IS NOT CONTAGIOUS.

It is quite common. Predominates in autumn and spring and mostly affects children and young adults

Typical case example. A 10-year-old boy presents with a series of maculopapular lesions on the trunk and buttocks. The lesions are oval in shape, peripherally scaly and slightly pruritic (itchy). There is also a similar but larger lesion on the trunk. The child’s mother says that a week before the appearance of the skin lesions, the child was “sick”, with fever and sore throat.

Pitiriasis rosada imagen

Pityriasis rosea: how to differentiate it from other pathologies


The rash usually starts with a single lesion of 20-50mm in diameter (heraldic plaque), usually appearing on the trunk. After 3 to 12 days, the rest of the lesions appear. The rash has a symmetrical distribution with lesions similar to the heraldic plaque but smaller in size, erupting at 2-3 day intervals over 2-12 weeks. The lesions appear on the trunk and may extend to the neck and root of the limbs.

Cómo es Pitiriasis rosada de Gibert

Pityriasis rosea lesions are very characteristic. They are round or oval maculopapules, pink in colour and covered with scales. The centre of the lesions tends to clear and there is a surrounding rash of scales. The rash may last 4 to 8 weeks before disappearing. There is usually no residual lesion.

There are usually no associated symptoms, although they may sometimes be accompanied by pruritus, fever and microadenopathy.

what should I do?

In classic cases, the diagnosis is clinical and, if the paediatrician diagnoses it, it is not necessary to refer the patient to a dermatologist

Treatment is symptomatic. It is a pathology with very few symptoms and therefore, in most cases, treatment is not usually necessary. If the patient has intense itching, it can be treated with antihistamines.

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