Is it a floor wax or a dessert topping?
March 16, 2013 12:34 PM   Subscribe

Is pityriasis rosea viral or autoimmune? Yes, I've googled and found the results unilluminating - hoping for an answer from someone with more direct experience.
posted by plinth to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My husband had this about ten years ago. The short answer is, nobody really knows, it appears to be a dysfunctional immune response to a virus but the jury is still out. He did develop a more serious autoimmune disease about eight years later, but that could easily be a coincidence and probably is.
posted by KathrynT at 1:05 PM on March 16, 2013

I've had it and yet none of my young kids nor did my husband contract it - and we were all in close/direct skin contact. Like KathrynT says, the medical community doesn't really know the answer to your question. Though it seems to be viral, it's unclear how it it transmitted.

Also, about 10% of patients (oh lucky me!) who contract it also have intense itchiness. For weeks. All over. It sucks and I wouldn't wish PR on anyone.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 2:16 PM on March 16, 2013

It's weird, you get it, you break out, you go to a tanning booth, and's gone and you never get it again.

When I had it I was under a lot of stress, so I'm inclined to believe auto-immune. No one else I was in contact with got it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:12 PM on March 16, 2013

I did the tanning booth thing too and it made absolutely no difference in my symptoms. RB, I think you got lucky. The derm I went to said some respond to UV light and some don't. It's worth a try, Plinth.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 3:52 PM on March 16, 2013

*(a 2010 review in the Nigerian Quarterly Journal of Hospital Medicine) - The most accepted aetiologic factor for Pityriasis Rosea (PR) is viral infection and the evidences for this include...

*(a 2009 review in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology) - ...and many epidemiologic data all suggest an infectious origin. A host of infectious agents have been incriminated, but, recently, human herpesvirus 6 and 7 have been extensively studied.

*(a 2005 review in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology) - The association of PR with human herpesvirus-7 infection is still controversial... The role of autoimmunity in PR warrants further investigations.
posted by porpoise at 4:06 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've had it, and my doctor told me it wasn't contagious, i.e. I didn't need to worry about being around other people. But she didn't explain the exact mechanism and she said it wasn't really clear why people get it.

It was horribly itchy but went away on its own after a couple of months without steroids. This was about 15 years ago and I haven't had any auto-immune or dermatological problems since then. Good luck!
posted by altolinguistic at 3:53 AM on March 17, 2013

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