Choosing the best pityriasis rosea treatment depends on how severe the rash is, where it is located, and the age of the person. Most cases of the condition will clear on their own within six to 12 weeks. Many forms of pityriasis rosea treatment are focused on relieving the symptoms, such as irritation and itching. A rash that appears to be pityriasis rosea may actually be a rash caused by more serious condition or another type of skin infection that requires other forms of treatment.
Pityriasis rosea often results in mild to moderate itching and irritation. Applying cool, moist compresses to the affected area can help reduce irritation, as well as taking cool showers or baths. Hot water dries out the skin, which can make itching worse. Bathing in an oatmeal bath product or applying cooked, cooled oatmeal to the skin can also help relieve itching without medication. Lotions and skin creams soothe the skin and help lock in moisture, particularly when applied immediately after a shower or bath.
Many soaps and bath gels contain alcohol and other drying agents. Pityriasis rosea patients should use small amounts of mild, moisturizing soaps to avoid further irritation. Wearing loose, cotton clothing can also help reduce symptoms. Wool and synthetic fabrics or tight-fitting clothing can irritate the skin and hold in sweat, which may make itching worse once it evaporates.
Patients who suffer from severe irritation or itching may require further pityriasis rosea treatment. Topical anti-itch products, such as hydrocortisone cream, provide temporary relief from itching. These creams should not be used on children under two years old and should be used with caution on the face and groin. Over-the-counter oral antihistamines help control itching, but they should not be given to children unless a doctor advises to do so.
Prescription-strength antihistamines or topical anti-itch creams or gels may be necessary for patients who do not experience itch relief from at-home or over-the-counter pityriasis rosea treatment methods. A doctor or dermatologist may also prescribe an anti-viral medication, such as famciclovir or acyclovir, to reduce the duration of the problem. Some dermatologists also offer UVB light therapy to reduce the length of time the rash is present.
Patients with pityriasis rosea should visit their doctors before attempting to treat rashes. The condition can be diagnosed without further testing in most cases, but some instances of what appears to be pityriasis rosea may actually be rashes caused by other conditions, such as ringworm or syphilis. Patients with these types of rashes require different treatment approaches. Doctors can rule out potentially serious conditions with blood tests or skin biopsies.