Pityriasis Rosea In Children: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

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Pityriasis rosea in children is characterized by pink or red scaly rashes. Usually, the rash begins as a single, one- to two-inch oval patch, called a herald patch. Eventually, it increases to multiple smaller and itchy patches. It is more common in older children and teens, and the underlying cause is usually unknown (1) (2).

The rashes may last for one to three months and be mildly uncomfortable. For most children, the rashes are mild, non-contagious, and do not leave any scars after healing. Pityriasis rosea can be treated at home with minimal or no medical intervention in most cases.

Read this article to learn about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of pityriasis rosea in children.

Signs And Symptoms Of Pityriasis Rosea In Children

Pityriasis rosea usually starts as a single, large reddish or pinkish patch, called the herald patch. After several days, several rashes appear on the torso, neck, arms, and legs. Several other common symptoms that may accompany the rashes are (3):

  • Mild fever
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

Usually, pityriasis rosea doesn’t require medical care. However, doctor consultation is necessary if the child experiences excessive itching, persistent stuffy nose, sore throat, or fever. 

Causes Of Pityriasis Rosea In Children

There’s no precise cause for pityriasis rosea. The rash is non-contagious, which means your child cannot catch it from someone. Research indicates that viral infection could be a risk factor for developing pityriasis rosea since the rash may occur after a bout of viral infection. Some other researchers believe that an autoimmune reaction may be responsible for these rashes (3) (4) 

Diagnosis Of Pityriasis Rosea In Children

The doctor will note the child’s symptoms and ask parents about the child’s health history. In rare cases, if the doctor is doubtful, they may order the following tests (3) (4).

  1. Blood tests: The blood test helps determine if the rash is caused by another infection, such as scarlet fever, which also causes red rashes.
  1. Biopsy: The doctor will take a skin sample from the affected site and put it under a microscope to ensure the rash isn’t caused by other skin conditions such as ringworm.  

Treatment For Pityriasis Rosea In Children

A child with mild symptoms of pityriasis rosea will not need any medical treatment. The healthcare provider may suggest the following interventions (2) (3) (4).

  • Bathe gently using mild soap and lukewarm water. Alternatively, the child may have cool baths with or without oatmeal.
  • Apply unscented, mild lubricants, such as medicated lotions or creams, to keep the skin moist.
  • Put cool compresses on the affected areas to alleviate itching.

Besides these, the doctor may recommend moderate sun exposure, which may help heal the rash. They may also recommend a mild hydrocortisone cream to reduce itching and redness. However, if the child has excessive itching, the doctor may advise the following.

  • Ultraviolet (UVB) phototherapy, which a dermatologist will perform in their office to resolve the rashes.

In most cases, the rash resolves within one to two months without any treatment. However, in some other cases, the rash may last for up to three months or longer. Call your healthcare provider if the rashes do not improve or worsen. It’s essential as persistent itching may cause secondary bacterial infection.

Pityriasis rosea is a self-limiting, mild skin rash that is common in older children and teens. Generally, the rash causes mild symptoms, which don’t warrant medical intervention. Instead, simple home remedies, such as oatmeal baths and moderate sun exposure, help provide relief to most children with pityriasis rosea.  

Key Pointers

  • Pityriasis rosea in children usually begins as a single reddish or pinkish patch that eventually spreads across the torso, neck, arms, and legs.
  • Consult a doctor if your child has significant itching, a persistent congested nose, sore throat, or fever.
  • A skin biopsy may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis of pityriasis rosea in children.
  • Excessive itching can be relieved with cool compresses, antihistamines, and steroid creams.

References:

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Dr. Arva M Bhavnagarwala

(MBBS, DNB)
Dr. Arva Bhavnagarwala has completed her post-graduation from Masina Hospital in Mumbai. She has worked at Jaslok Hospital and Research Center as a Clinical Associate. Currently, she practices Pediatrics at her private clinic in South Mumbai and is attached to Masina Hospital as a consultant pediatrician. Dr. Bhavnagarwala is a National Advisory Board Member of Indian Pediatrics, the official publication... more

Swati Patwal

Swati Patwal is a clinical nutritionist and toddler mom with over eight years of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She started her career as a CSR project coordinator for a healthy eating and active lifestyle project catering to school children. Then she worked as a nutrition faculty and clinical nutrition coach in different organizations. Her interest in scientific writing... more