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Skin Care and Diseases

Pityriasis Rosea

05/30/2001

Question:

I was diagnosed with pityriasis rosea in december of 1999.I was told that it doesn`t return.It did return in september of 2000 and it is back now.Does it reoccur?Is there anyway to prevent it or to make it go away faster?

Answer:

Pityriasis rosea is a rash that generally is considered to occur just once. But there are many people who indicate that they have had it more than once. The cause of pityriasis rosea (often abbreviated PR) is not known although most people think it is due to some virus. Many investigators have looked by many methods for a virus and have been unsuccessful. The conclusion is that this rash is of unknown cause, possibly a virus. For this reason no one has devised a preventive treatment.

That is important because there might be several different viruses or other agents that cause this rash. If so then one might get PR once, become immune to one agent but still be susceptible to the other agents that can cause PR. So it might be possible to get the rash several times. Most people get it just once.

The easiest treatment is exposure to natural sunlight for 30 minutes daily for a week. The rash almost invariable involutes and the itch disappears very rapidly. One can use artificial ultraviolet lights but sunlight is the most accessible, the cheapest and nicest form of Ultraviolet light therapy.

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Response by:

James J Nordlund, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati