Pityriasis rosea (Piht-ih-RYE-ah-sihs Ro-ZEE-uh) is a harmless rash of unknown origin that typically affects those between age 10 and 35, though it may occur at any age. The first sign of pityriasis is usually a round, scaling, red lesion on the chest, back, or stomach known as a ""herald patch."" A few days or weeks later, many smaller patches appear, often following the natural skin folds on the abdomen or back and creating a pattern similar to a Christmas tree. The rash may also spread to the thighs, arms, or neck, and rarely, the face. Sometimes it's difficult to distinguish pityriasis from conditions like psoriasis (soh-RYE-uh-sihs), ringworm, or a syphilis rash, so it's wise to get an expert opinion before attempting self-treatment. Itching is the most common side effect and can be relieved with oral medication or topical creams. To minimize skin inflammation, you may be advised to avoid hot water and strenuous exercise. Otherwise, there's no real treatment for pityriasis and most cases fade on their own within six to eight weeks. Once the rash clears, all marks eventually disappear and pityriasis almost never returns.
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