Facebook Pixel

Pityriasis Rosea Rash: Herald or Mother Patch

By HERWriter
Rate This

Pityriasis rosea (pronounced pĭt'ĭ-rī'ə-sĭs rō-zē-ə) is a rash that occurs most commonly in people between the ages of 10 and 35 but may occur at any age.

The rash (also known as Pityriasis rosea Gibert) can last several weeks to several months. Usually, there are no permanent marks as a result of this condition. However, some darker-skinned persons may develop long-lasting flat brown spots that eventually fade. Pityriasis rosea may occur at any time of year.

Pityriasis rosea begins with a large scaly pink patch on the chest or back which is called a herald or mother patch. It is often confused with ringworm but antifungal creams do not help because it is not a fungus.

Within a week or two, more pink patches appear on the chest, back, arms and legs. Patches may also occur on the neck, but rarely on the face. The patches are oval and may form a pattern over the back that resembles the outline of a Christmas tree. Sometimes the disease can produce a very severe and widespread skin eruption.

About half the patients will have some itching, especially when they become warm. Physical activities like jogging and running or bathing in hot water may cause the rash to temporarily worsen or become more obvious. There may be other symptoms including fatigue and aching. The rash usually fades and disappears within six to eight weeks, but can sometimes last much longer

The cause is unknown. Pityriasis rosea is not a sign of any internal disease, nor is it caused by a fungus, a bacterium, or an allergy. There is recent evidence suggesting that it may be caused by a virus since the rash resembles certain viral illnesses and occasionally a person feels slightly ill for a short while just before the rash appears. Pityriasis rosea does not seem to spread from person to person and it usually occurs only once in a lifetime.

The diagnosis is made by a dermatologist. Pityriasis rosea affects the back, neck, chest, abdomen, upper arms, and legs, but the rash may differ from person to person making the diagnosis more difficult. The numbers and sizes of the spots can also vary, and occasionally the rash can be found in an unusual location such as the lower body, or on the face. This usually occurs in older individuals. Fungal infections, like ringworm, may resemble this rash. Reactions to certain medications, such as antibiotics, water pill, and heart medications can also look the same as pityriasis rosea.

The dermatologist may order blood tests, scrape the skin or take a sample from one of the spots (skin biopsy) to examine under a microscope to make the diagnosis.

Pityriasis rosea often requires no treatment and it usually goes away by itself. However, treatment may include external or internal medications for itching. Soothing medicated lotions and lubricants may be prescribed. Lukewarm rather than hot baths may be suggested. Ultraviolet light treatments given under the supervision of a dermatologist may be helpful.

Occasionally, anti-inflammatory medications such as corticosteroid may be necessary to stop itching or make the rash go away. Patients should be reassured that this disease is not a dangerous skin condition even if it occurs during pregnancy.

Remember that pityriasis rosea is a common skin disorder and is usually mild. Most cases usually do not need treatment and fortunately, even the most severe cases eventually go away.


MC Ortega is the former publicist for the late Walter Payton, Coca-Cola and Dunkin’ Donuts. Ortega is a senior communications and messaging executive specializing in media relations, social media, program development and crisis communications. Also, Ortega is an avid traveler and international shopper. Ortega resides with her partner, Craig, dog, Fionne and extensive shoe collection. Ortega also enjoys jewelry design/production and flamenco dancing.

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

hello there is a treatment for it ive got it i have the rash called herald rash when i went to doctor she gave me 2 thinks a body cream called oilatum cream and some tablets witch i dont have anyy more it worked xxx !!!!1

July 6, 2011 - 2:10am
EmpowHER Guest

My son has this disease and he's just 5. I didn't know what to think! He's has had it for about a week. He acts as if it doesn't bother him, he has continues to play and says that it doesn't itch. I took him to the doctor and was informed that there wasn't treatment for it. There's got to be something out there...

April 29, 2010 - 4:12pm
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Pityriasis Rosea

Get Email Updates

Related Topics

Pityriasis Rosea Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!