Pityriasis Rosea in Children: Care Instructions

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Pityriasis rosea (say "pit-uh-RY-uh-sus ROH-zee-uh") is a harmless skin rash. It usually starts as one scaly and pinkish, purple, or red-brown patch on your stomach or back. Days or weeks later, more small patches appear. The rash may itch, but it will not spread to other people.

Experts aren't sure what causes pityriasis rosea. It may be caused by a virus.

Pityriasis rosea is most common in children and young adults. It lasts 1 to 3 months and then goes away on its own. Medicine can help relieve any itching.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine, use it exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think your child is having a problem with a medicine.
  • Use a mild soap or a gentle skin cleanser when you wash your child's skin.
  • Add a handful of oatmeal (ground to a powder) to your child's bath. Or you can try an oatmeal bath product, such as Aveeno. Keep the water warm or lukewarm. A hot bath or shower may make the rash more visible and itchy.
  • Try an over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream for small itchy areas. Use the cream very sparingly on the face or genitals. Note: Do not use the cream on children younger than age 2 unless your doctor tells you to. Do not use in the rectal or vaginal area in children younger than age 12 unless your doctor tells you to.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks near the rash.
    • Pus draining from the rash.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You see the rash on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.