Pityriasis rosea is a common skin disorder mainly affecting children and young adults in winter. Pityriasis rosea can be mistaken for psoriasis because of the salmon plaques that appear, mainly on the trunk. It is differentiated by the presentation of the lesions, usually running down and out from the spine in a ‘fir tree’ pattern.


Most people develop one plaque (the ‘herald’ plaque) before the others appear. It is typically larger, rounder, redder and more scaly than later lesions. The herald plaque precedes the generalised eruption by several days. About half of those affected experience itching, and some people have systemic symptoms like aching and tiredness. The eruption typically lasts for two to ten weeks and then resolves spontaneously, sometimes leaving hyperpigmentated patches that resolve more slowly.

Causes or Triggers

Pityriasis rosea may be caused by reactivation of human herpesvirus 6, or human herpesvirus 7, thus a compromised immune system can make a person susceptible to this disease. A history of the childhood illness Roseola infantum is a risk factor. Pityriasis rosea usually manifests in Winter, perhaps due to the extra burden on the immune system at this time. Dietary and lifestyle factors can contribute to this condition if they are not conducive to a healthy immune system.

The Auckland Skin Clinic approach

Although Pityriasis rosea usually resolves by itself, the course can be long and the remaining hyperpigmentation can be difficult to resolve without treatment. At Auckland Skin Clinic we use safe, topical agents and body washes to help reduce the course length, relieve the symptoms and restore skin integrity. The immune system is supported while nutrient deficiencies, underlying infections, dietary, environmental and lifestyle triggers are identified and addressed.

At Auckland Skin Clinic, we’re aware that having a skin disorder can be very frustrating, embarrassing and depressing. We are also aware that it often requires some major effort on your part to change your habits and adopt a healthy lifestyle. We do our best to ensure your emotional wellbeing is supported throughout this process.