Pityriasis rosea


Pityriasis rosea is a common skin condition characterized by raised, scaly rashes that develop on patches of the skin. The rash often begins with the appearance of an oval spot, known as a herald patch, which can appear on the face, chest, abdomen, or back and may measure up to 4 inches (10 centimeters) across. Subsequently, smaller spots resembling drooping pine-tree branches may emerge, spreading outwards from the body’s center. Itching may accompany the rash.

The rash typically persists for a few weeks before resolving on its own without leaving any scars. Treatment is often unnecessary. Lotions containing medication can help alleviate itching and expedite the rash’s disappearance. Pityriasis rosea seldom recurs and is not contagious.

“Pityriasis rosea” is also called “Christmas tree rash.”


Typically, pityriasis rosea starts with an oval, slightly elevated, scaly patch on the face, back, chest, or abdomen.  This patch is known as the herald patch.  Pityriasis rosea typically manifests its symptoms gradually:

  • A fever, headache, or upper respiratory infection may appear at first.
  • A raised, discolored patch, typically circular or oval-shaped and measuring between 1 to 6 centimeters (cm), may develop. This initial patch is often referred to as the herald or mother patch.
  • Discolored circular or oval-shaped patches start to emerge in groups close to the herald patch around a week to two weeks later. These patches, which vary in size from 1 to 2 cm and are frequently referred to as daughter patches, are smaller than herald patches. Their pattern of development is similar to the drooping branches of a Christmas tree.
  • The patches itch in about 50% of patients with pityriasis rosea.
  • Black or darker-skinned individuals may have more elevated patches, with necrotic tissue in the centersof the patches.

Pityriasis rosea is not painful. On the other hand, if you scratch your spots, you could break your skin, which could result in an infection.

If you have a rash that doesn’t go away after three months or worsen, see a healthcare provider.

Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you experience symptoms of pityriasis rosea while pregnant. Research indicates that the onset of pityriasis rosea during pregnancy might lead to birth complications, such as miscarriage and neonatal hypotonia, which involves poor muscle tone and development in the newborn.


Pityriasis rosea’s exact cause remains unknown, but it’s speculated to be linked to viral infections, potentially certain strains of herpes viruses. However, it’s important to note that this condition is unrelated to the herpes virus responsible for cold sores.

Risk Factor

While pityriasis rosea can occur at any age, it most frequently affects those who are at ages 10 to 35. People who are over 60 are typically not affected with pityriasis rosea. However, should that occur, the duration of the symptoms might be prolonged.