Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Pityriasis Rosea—my experience with this somewhat strange inflammatory skin condition

Pityriasis rosea (PR) is a skin condition I have had myself, so I thought I’d write down my own experiences in case it might be helpful to any of you.

PR is described as an acute inflammatory skin disease, marked by reddish ring-shaped eruptions, predominantly on the trunk. Just for the record, PR has no “known” cause. But I can tell you in one word why I developed this condition: stress. The year I was producing my first book was one of the most stressful periods of my entire life. I cannot begin to explain the inner stress my body and soul was going through. The outer or physical manifestation of this inner turmoil was, in my opinion, pityriasis rosea.

It started with the classic herald patch; mine was located just above my right hip bone on my backside (just like this illustration). I noticed it immediately because it was big—about the size of a half dollar. It had an unusual and distinct border but that was the only spot I could see. That initial single spot changed within a few short days, and I started to get what looked like chicken pox-type red spots all over the entire trunk of my body. The number of spots increased by the dozens on a daily basis, yet I had no idea what was going on.

I happened to be on vacation with friends in Seattle during the time the increasing spots were occurring. One of these friends happened to be a Physician’s Assistant, and immediately classified it as pityriasis rosea. I had never heard of it, so my PA friend explained what she could: namely that there was nothing I could do for it but just ride it out. I put soothing creams with allantoin and aloe vera all over my body, but I can honestly say I don’t think anything I did really helped the spots go away. Like she said, I just had to let nature run its course.

I was lucky—although the spots were somewhat unsightly, they did not itch. In some cases of PR, itching does occur. Due to the numerous red dots spotting my body, I can’t imagine how awful it would have been if they indeed needed scratching. It would have been a much more arduous thing to get through, to be sure.

If you are diagnosed with PR, be patient and know that the spots, whether they itch or not, will go away in time. Although I had what seemed like hundreds of spots, there were no scars left and looking at my skin today you would never know I had PR.

It is not a fun skin condition, but it is fairly harmless. If you are under a lot of stress, your body will do what it needs to compensate. For me during this particular period of time, I developed pityriasis rosea. It’s not the end of the world, and the look of your skin is the worst part of this unusual skin problem.

For more skin conditions, see: