Pityriasis Rosea: My Strange Full-Body Rash
What is Pityriasis rosea
Pityriasis rosea (pit-uh-rahy-uh-sis row-zee-ah) is a skin rash. It is harmless but may cause discomfort in certain cases. Normally, it begins with a single "herald patch" lesion that lasts 7-14 days and is then followed by a generalized body rash usually lasting 6-8 weeks, though sometimes up to 12 weeks. In rare cases it can last up to 6 months.
Have you ever suffered from this condition?
Have you ever had Pityriasis Rosea?
My fun-filled story
As I sit here writing this article, I am covered in pityriasis rosea. This is the first time I've had this rash, and from what I've learned, it will most likely be the last. It is a scary rash!
I was sick with an upper respiratory infection about a month ago. It was bronchitis. (I am a recent ex-smoker and thank god for being able to put cigarettes down after 17 years of smoking). Anyhow, I received treatment and antibiotics for my cold and quickly recovered.
I have been going through extreme stress related to work and family, and I had purchased a new swimsuit when I first noticed my herald patch. I thought it was from fabric friction (looking back now, I have no idea why I'd think that was the cause). In any event, I quickly thought nothing more of it.
A week passed, but it had not healed. Then I thought I might have contracted ringworm, as I once got that from a tanning bed, and the current rash looked very similar. I treated it for 3 more days with anti-fungal medication and coconut oil, but it did not improve.
By day 30, I had a low-grade fever and was exhausted. I rested when I could. Then the rash began to expand and cover more of my body. It started on my lower legs and inner thighs, and quickly moved to my belly and rib cage. It is still spreading as I type this. I have it on my thighs, groin, rib cage, armpits, chest, back, and legs. The only places that seem unaffected are my face, palms, soles of feet, and forearms.
I've read that this rash is associated with immune system suppression as well as herpes virus type 6 and 7, which 90% of humans carry by the age of 6 years old. I also read that it is viral. I did have chicken pox as a kid, so it's very likely this is a form of HSV.
At this point, I finally went to my dermatologist, who confirmed the diagnosis. But before getting to the dermatologist, I ended up in the ER due to panic and severely uncomfortable skin. I felt like I wanted to burn my skin off; I had never felt this kind of extreme discomfort before, and it was horrible.
My dermatologist promptly reassured me that there was no need to panic, and that I can treat this at home. I'm still in panic mode; I want this to go away. I feel like a freak, or that I should be cast out to a leper colony. Luckily for my other family members, this is not contagious.
I'm now treating the rash at home with garlic capsules, anti-inflammatory medication, steroids, vitamins, rest, and medicated powder. I only pray this will be gone in a few more weeks, especially because my belly is itching like crazy! It is a very scary, unsettling rash, although harmless and not life threatening.
It is a non-specific rash, and the cause is not well understood. It can spread almost over your entire body and it takes a long time to clear up. I felt compelled to share my experience with others—so if you get this rash, you will know to seek treatment earlier than I did.
Did you suffer from a cold or illness before this rash appeared?
The symptoms of this skin disorder are usually easy to identify but can often be mistaken for another illness.
- In all cases, a legion called a "Herald patch" will develop. This is an oval shaped lesion, with a flaky raised edge, 1-10 cm in size with a raised border and fine, adherent scales. It may first appear as a mild skin abrasion, as days pass, it can easily be mistaken for ring worm. But using anti-fungal creams will do nothing to make it go away. Typically the Herald patch appears on the chest or arms, but sometimes in the armpit, where it is easily unnoticed. The Herald patch will form, and within 7-14 days, new lesions in smaller sizes will begin to develop on the body. Most of the time, the rash will cover the upper extremities and trunk, leaving the face, hands, and feet unscathed. It can also appear on the lower legs, groin, and buttocks.
- Average heal time is 6-12 weeks and will not cause scarring
- 1 in 4 people will experience mild to severe itching.
- This rash can also cause fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, nausea, mild fever, headaches, and a considerable amount of stress and low self-esteem.
- Try not to freak out (I wigged out and it seemed worse), also eliminate as much stress from your life as possible until you are fully healed.
Pityriasis rosea Herald patch
Itchy Pityriasis roseaClick thumbnail to view full-size
What causes this strange rash?
Pityriasis rosea is often caused by a suppression to the immune system either from a previous illness or virus, or from extreme stress. It is common for a previous upper respiratory infection to proceed all other symptoms in 70% percent of cases diagnosed. This rash typically does not leaves scars on the body.
It is advised to visit a dermatologist to make sure what you are experiencing is in fact pityriasis rosea. The good news is that this skin disorder usually only shows up one time in someone's life and can easily be treated at home until it goes away. This rash is not contagious. You may find a combination of the treatments below work best for you, or that only a few will work.
- Use OTC pain medication for inflammation, headaches, and fever
- Use benadryl as an antihistamine
- Gold Bond medicated powder and cortisone cream can control daytime itchiness
- Soaking in an oatmeal bath will also help discomfort from itching
- In extreme cases, steroids can be prescribed, like Prednisone (if you are on a steroid do not use cortisone creams). Also keep in mind that most prescriptions medications lower your immunity and have nasty side effects, so it's best to avoid them when possible, use as a last resort. If you have any form of Herpes simplex virus, do not take steroid medication for this rash. Doing so can result in an HSV outbreak. Speak with your doctor or dermatologist about other options.
- Diaper rash ointment can also be helpful
- Washing with Head and Shoulders on your body can be helpful
- Keep your skin clean, and don't scratch, pick or scrub when showering
- Use cold compresses, avoid exercise, or clothing that suffocates and overheats your body
- Shower in the coldest water you can tolerate and avoid heavy perfumed soaps
- Sun exposure can also help lesions heal more quickly
- Take garlic capsules, vitamin D, vitamin C, and zinc to boost your immune system
- L-Lysine can help retard viral reproduction
- Get plenty of rest and water
- Don't be alarmed if the rash continues to spread after the 7-14 Herald patch arrives, you should see a decline in new rash patches within secondary arrival in about 14 days
- Eliminate as much stress as possible from your life
A must read site if you suffer from PR
- Pityriasis Rosea Pictures
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2013 Rebecca