Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Pityriasis rosea

3-minute read

What is pityriasis rosea?

Pityriasis rosea is a mild skin rash with a pink, scaly and inflamed appearance. The condition is quite common, and it is not serious. It is most common in young adults.

The rash usually lasts between 1 to 3 months and leaves no permanent marks. However, people with dark skin may notice lasting brown spots after the rash has healed.

Once it is gone, it usually does not come back.

What are the symptoms of pityriasis rosea?

The first sign is usually a circular or oval patch on the chest, belly or back. The patch is usually pink or tan.

Over the next couple of weeks, smaller pink or tan patches appear on areas such as the back, neck, arms or legs. The pattern of these patches can look like drooping pine-tree branches.

You may also notice that you:

Pityriasis rosea on a person's abdomen

Pityriasis rosea on a person's abdomen

Close-up of pityriasis rosea on skin

Close-up of pityriasis rosea on skin

What causes pityriasis rosea?

The cause of pityriasis rosea is not known but it is thought to be caused by a virus or bacteria. It is probably not contagious.

How is pityriasis rosea diagnosed and treated?

Doctors can usually diagnose the rash of pityriasis rosea just by looking at it.

Your doctor may take a scraping for testing or do a blood test to rule out other conditions.

Most treatments for pityriasis rosea aim to soothe the skin and relieve itching. They include:

  • corticosteroid cream or ointment, which may also decrease redness
  • using a gentle soap-free wash
  • using moisturiser

If you have pityriasis rosea, avoid having a hot bath or sauna, as heat can make the itching worse. Contact your doctor if the rash gets worse, it gets swollen or infected, or it does not go away in 8 weeks.

It is very unusual for the rash to come back.

Natural or artificial sunlight can help fade the rash, but in some people this can cause lasting dark patches.

If you develop pityriasis rosea when you are pregnant then check with your doctor, as in rare cases it can lead to complications.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: March 2021

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Pityriasis rosea - A - Z of Skin

Pityriasis rosea is a common self-resolving rash that usually occurs in children and young adults but can occur at any age.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Pityriasis rosea - Better Health Channel

Generally, pityriasis rosea is a one-off event - once it has gone, the rash doesn?t reappear.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

ACD A-Z of Skin - Pityriasis versicolor

Pityriasis versicolor is a common skin rash in puberty and early adult life but can occur in infants. It is more common in warm humid environments and may be seasonal.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

ACD A-Z of Skin - Pityriasis Alba

Pityriasis alba is a benign and very common, self-resolving, eczematous (mild dermatitis) rash that most commonly affects children and young adults.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

ACD A-Z of Skin - Pityriasis Rubra Pilaris

Pityriasis Rubra Pilaris is a rare scaly red/orange rash which is mildly itchy and can progress to cover most of the body. The cause of pityriasis rubra pilaris is unknown. It is not infectious.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

ACD A-Z of Skin - Pregnancy dermatoses

Pregnancy dermatoses are rashes that only occur in pregnancy. namely, Atopic and Polymorphic eruption, pemphigoid gestationis and Intrahepatic cholestasis

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Common childhood rashes

Childhood rashes are common and many disappear without treatment. Learn about symptoms and treatment of childhood rashes, such as eczema, ringworm and impetigo.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.