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Health Information For Teens
Pityriasis rosea (pronounced: pit-ih-RYE-uh-sis ROE-zee-uh) is a harmless temporary skin condition that’s common in teens. This pink or gray scaly skin rash can last for 4 to 8 weeks — or, sometimes, months. The rash usually starts with one big patch on the chest, abdomen, thighs, or back that’s often mistaken for ringworm.
As the rash spreads, the original patch is joined by a number of smaller spots that spread out across the torso. In some cases, the spots spread to the arms and legs (but it usually doesn’t appear on the palms or soles). The spots can be slightly itchy.
Pityriasis rosea is not contagious. Although sometimes the spots take a while to fade completely, most people have no lasting traces of the rash after it’s healed.
Doctors aren’t really sure what causes pityriasis rosea. Some think a
causes it, but this hasn’t been proved.
Pityriasis rosea is more likely to show up in the spring and fall.
Most teens who get pityriasis rosea have no warning signs. Others can have flu-like symptoms (a sore throat, swollen glands, a headache, feeling tired) a few days before the rash appears.
The rash itself usually starts with one large spot, called the herald patch or “mother” patch, which can appear anywhere on the skin but usually is on the chest, belly, back, or thighs. This patch can be raised and may feel scaly. In people with light skin, the patch is pink or red. People with darker skin can see a variety of colors, from violet to brown to gray.
The herald patch might be the only sign of this condition for up to 2 to 3 weeks. As the rash grows, however, smaller spots (called “daughter” spots) can appear across the torso and on the arms and legs. The spots look almost identical on both sides of the body. These small patches are usually oval shaped and often form a pattern on the back that looks like a Christmas tree.
To diagnose pityriasis rosea, doctors check the skin for the telltale signs of the rash. Sometimes doctors gently scrape off a few scales from the rash to examine under the microscope to rule out other possible causes, like ringworm or psoriasis.
Most cases of pityriasis rosea go away in 1 to 2 months without any treatment. Some cases can be as short as 2 weeks, while others can last for 3 months or longer.
When pityriasis rosea does need treatment, it’s usually just to control the itching. Over-the-counter itch creams or allergy syrups can help, and so can oatmeal baths.
In some cases, just getting a moderate amount of sunlight can help improve the rash and the itching. If you use this form of therapy, protect yourself from sunburn, which can sometimes make a rash worse.
Light therapy might be prescribed for cases where the itching is really bothersome. Usually, this involves ultraviolet B (UVB) therapy and is done by a
Vitiligo is a loss of skin pigment that causes white spots or patches to appear on the skin. It’s not medically dangerous, but it can affect a person’s appearance. Find out more.
Ringworm isn’t a worm at all – it’s the name for a type of fungal skin infection. The good news is that ringworm is easy to treat.
The skin rash molluscum contagiosum isn’t a big deal. Find out what to do about it in this article for teens.
Poison ivy can grow anywhere, from the woods to your backyard. This article for teens has tips on how to avoid the plant and what to do if you get a rash.
Sometimes it may seem like your skin is impossible to manage, especially when you find a huge zit on your nose or a cold sore at the corner of your mouth. Here are ways to prevent and treat common skin problems.
Hives cause raised red bumps or welts on the skin. They’re pretty common and usually not serious. Find out what to do about hives in this article for teens.
Eczema is a common skin problem among teens. If you have eczema, read this article to find out more about it and how you can deal with the skin stress.
Impetigo is a skin infection caused by fairly common bacteria. Read this article to learn how to recognize it and what to do about it.
Acanthosis nigricans is a darkening and thickening of the skin that can be a sign of other medical conditions. Find out more.
Lyme disease can be treated if it’s caught early. Find out what causes it, how it’s treated, and how to prevent it.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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