Is this Pityriasis Rosea?
January 25, 2005 5:08 PM   Subscribe

Any experiences with pityriasis rosea? I seem to maybe in theory have a case of it.

A bunch of small red spots -- they could be taken for misquito bites or pimples at a glance -- showed up on my chest and back and upper upper thighs Sunday morning, and have been hanging around ever since, maybe multiplying a little.

They don't itch, they don't seem to have any content, but they're, y'know, there.

Doctor today took a quick look and concluded that Pityriasis Rosea was the likely answer, which is good news if it's true -- it's viral, not fungal; it's benign; it runs its course without any need for treatment and goes away over a period of (usually) several weeks without climbing onto the face or the hands; and it generally doesn't recur.

But all of that has hand-waving and percentages attached, so I'm wondering: anybody dealt with this before? Any notable variations from the literature?
posted by cortex to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
Best answer: You should have had a herald patch (slightly larger single eruption preceding the generalized exanthem); if you look at the smaller spots, they should be shaped parallel to the natural skin folds, which on the trunk means they are horizontal when standing upright. The textbook I believe says they appear in a 'Christmas-tree' distribution.

They might itch a lot after a hot shower. That's typical.

It's medically correct to test for secondary syphilis when the diagnosis of pityriasis is considered, because the eruptions can be indistinguishable.

It's apparently spread by casual contact, and IIRC is caused by human herpes virus 8, the same one implicated in Kaposi's sarcoma (in the immunocompromised). I caught it in college; apart from wearing long sleeved shirts for a few weeks, it didn't really impact my life much at all.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:49 PM on January 25, 2005

I had it when I was young -- I don't recall needing any treatment or being in pain/itch, it just went away after a while. Never had it since.
posted by cheaily at 6:20 PM on January 25, 2005

I had it when I was a kid, on my chest. I think it was itchy. They didn't perscribe a treatment IIRC.
posted by abcde at 7:10 PM on January 25, 2005

I had this in college, too, as did one of my friends. I had one primary spot show up on my stomach the size of a quarter, and i ignored it because i had just gotten over the flu and was hence a little sweaty, bedridden, etc. However, it quickly spread in the next few days around more of my torso in little satellite spots. I got it in March when my immune system was completely debilitated. I went to the dermatologist, and they gave me this:

Schering [brand] Diprolene AF. Cream [form], 0.05%

It was an innocuous white cream that i rubbed on the spots (lol) like 2x a day or something.

But it wasn't a big deal, and i don't recall it itching, so if it was itchy, it must not have been bad...although i felt like a leper...I luckily began treatment before it got too bad. i had about 10 spots in all on my torso. Once i started with the cream, it went away completely within like 2 weeks. So get yourself to the dermatologist ASAP.

Btw, i talked my dermatologist into giving me a box of samples as opposed to putting-in a prescription. It was clever because i ended up not needing much to treat the spots. See what you can leverage, but seriously go to the dermotologist if you think this is what you have.
posted by naxosaxur at 7:59 PM on January 25, 2005

oooh, cortex, i suck. i just re-read your "more inside" after forgetting what you had written (i'm totally late in the evening).

Sorry for all that 'go to your dermatologist' crap. But i still would recommend that you ask your doctor to prescribe the Diprolene AF. Why let it linger, and why risk the chance that it will spread more?
posted by naxosaxur at 8:02 PM on January 25, 2005

I had it. Mine itched like HELL and lasted about 10 weeks. I just applied hydrocortisone as needed. My herald patch was above my left ear and extended up into my hairline - that was the itchiest part. Mine definitely stayed within the areas where it's supposed to occur. If it spreads down past your knees, or onto your arms or face, you should probably assume it's not pityriasis rosea and head back to the doctor. It's not too bad.

Two years later I had another symptomless rash that a dermatologist tried to tell me was pityriasis. It was totally different but I still wonder if it was somehow related. And hey! You're in Portland, too. Nice to meet you!
posted by peep at 8:21 PM on January 25, 2005

Uh, my bad. I guess it can be on your arms. Mine wasn't. Another thing I forgot was that it looks exactly like ringworm; I actually used anti-fungal for weeks because I thought that's what mine was.
posted by peep at 8:24 PM on January 25, 2005

I've had it a couple of times, once when I was a kid and once a couple of summers ago.

It's viral, but my family doctor gave me cream to treat it last time, because it was slightly itchy and it reacted to heat. (You might want to get it checked out, because he checked out the formation pattern to make sure it wasn't something else, possibly that syphilis thing.) I think he only prescribed something for it because it was uncomfortable, not to cure it. (viruses have to just run their courses, yes?)
posted by SoftRain at 9:04 PM on January 25, 2005

I had it at university - very itchy, otherwise harmless, didn't reach my face or hands, the herald patch had been on my bottom. The doctor told me what it was and prescribed a hydrocortisone cream (I think...) which I never bought as she'd also told me it would go away by itself. It did - took a few weeks.

I was amused to find, on returning home after the GP appointment and looking up 'pityriasis rosea' on the Web, and finding that it is Greek for 'scabby red/pink skin disease'. Talk about telling me what I already knew....
posted by altolinguistic at 1:20 AM on January 26, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody. (And hi, peep!)

I'm very much reassured to not hear horrified recollections or "benign my ASS" here. I think I say this in just about every thread I start, but AskMe rocks.
posted by cortex at 10:26 AM on January 26, 2005

« Older Where to get book sales statistics?   |   New Jazz Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.