Pityriasis Rosea Treatment: My Story

A Personal Experience With Pityriasis Rosea

Welcome. If you've discovered this post, you're likely dealing with the strange and unsightly condition known as Pityriasis Rosea. Yes, the name sounds bad, and being afflicted with it can be quite annoying and confusing.

My personal encounter was definitely a learning experience, so I thought I would share my story and my successful treatment for Pityriasis Rosea.

To provide you with a bit more context, my health is generally good. I'm a male in my early-40s. I work out regularly, and though my diet could be better, it definitely could be worse. I don't smoke. I do drink, but not to excess (mostly). I average 6-7 hours of sleep, and I don't take any medications on a regular basis.

Healthy as I may be, I do have fair skin, and I have had 2 basal-cell carcinomas removed on separate occasions over the past 10 years. So even though skin conditions do get my attention, a pink blemish was not an immediate concern at all. I considered it a simple allergic reaction ... until ...

The Mystery Rash

Pityriasis Rosea Herald Patch

The morning after discovering a single pink patch, roughly the diameter of a quarter, I noticed 2 more blemishes. They were smaller and fainter than the first, but near the same location on my right ribcage. I thought that this must be a rash, but it didn't itch or cause any discomfort. I went about my day and didn't think much of it until that evening when I noticed a couple more blotchy pink areas. Still of the belief that it must be an allergic reaction, I applied hydrocortisone to the area and left it alone. At this point, I started to think of possible culprits. Did I change my soap or laundry detergent? Could it be the fabric softener or somethings else? I didn't have an answer but I didn't lose any sleep over it either. At least it's not itchy, I thought. At least it's not a cold, or a stomach bug, or something that's really going to ruin my week. I assumed it would be gone the next morning.

Dr. Google

What Does Pityriasis Look Like?

Day 3 arrived, and to my surprise, the rash was not gone. Not only was it not gone, it had spread! I now had pink spots on both sides. The first anxious feeling had come over me, and instinctively, I went directly to the internet to find a comforting answer to explain what I was seeing. If you haven't experienced a Google image search for rashes, I can tell you that comfort, it does not provide.

After seeing a lot of unsettling images, the most similar in description and appearance seemed to be a fungal infection or yeast overgrowth. Not ideal, but easily treatable. I made sense of it assuming that I could have acquired it at the gym. I bought a maximum-strength, 3-day fungal cream and applied it regularly over the course of the next couple days. During this period, the rash continued to spread. It now covered my sides and lower back. I still felt no itching or discomfort, but I was getting very concerned. Against my own better judgment, I went back online to "learn" and I came across several new possibilities that looked very similar: Pityriasis Rosea and Mycosis Fungoides.

Peace of Mind

I wish I could tell you that this is when I learned all about Pityriasis Rosea, but Mycosis Fungoides grabbed my attention and caused immediate panic. Though Mycosis Fungoides sounds like a fungal condition, it is in fact a form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma that affects the skin in the form of a rash or lesions. Cancer. It was time to see a doctor.

A dermatologist seemed like the best option and I was able to get an appointment in 1 day, which was day 6 of my rash. The doctor was kind enough to indulge me and listen to my shortlist of internet diagnoses (doctors love that), and sure enough, the actual diagnosis was on the list: Pityriasis Rosea. Even after being told this would probably get worse before it gets better, all I could feel at that moment was relief. Both the anxiety of not knowing and of the possibility of it being cancer were gone.

Being Proactive

The good news was that I now knew what I was dealing with, and it wasn't a life-threatening or even a serious condition. The bad news was that I would be looking this ugly mess for quite some time. How long does Pityriasis Rosea last? Up to 12 weeks, with an average duration of 6 to 9 weeks. I decided not to just simply wait it out, even though most medical websites, and my own doctor suggested that there was no effective treatment for Pityriasis Rosea. I did a lot of research into medical reviews, holistic approaches, products, and personal experiences to come up with my own course of action.

What Worked For Me

From my research, I learned that there was definitely no single product that was guaranteed to cure Pityriasis Rosea. I decided that getting my body to a healthier state should be a priority. For me that meant addressing my gut and my mind. The other priority would be finding an external treatment.

For my gut, I wasn't about to make any dramatic lifelong changes, but I felt I could clean up my diet for a while. Right away, I started eating more fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. I drank cold-pressed juices and green teas. I incorporated plain Greek yogurt for breakfast, and I mostly stayed away from processed foods. I also made sure to drink plenty of water.

Reducing stress was a bit more challenging. I had practiced mindfulness and breathing exercises before, so I thought I would just make a conscious effort keep my thoughts positive. I also carved out 15 minutes in the mornings to do nothing but sit alone, breath, and clear my mind. I found that taking time for a little peace really was helpful.

I didn't break any records with my diet or master any kind of meditation, but I did make some quick changes that I feel stimulated my metabolism. It also made me feel noticeably better, and gave me a good template for dealing with future ailments. Getting your body to a healthier state is obviously different for every person. I am in no way a healthcare expert, but it seems to me that stress, inactivity, poor digestion, and lack of sleep are all bad. My thought was that if I could manage these things better, even if only for a short time, it couldn't hurt my cells' chances of a quicker recovery.

At the same time that I was going through my mind and body balancing, I was also treating my skin from the outside. I had searched high and low for treatments that others had tried as well as actual commercial products, and I decided on oatmeal soap and organic virgin coconut oil.

The benefits of oatmeal soap for your skin are fairly well known. Most importantly, I wanted to use a soap that wouldn't cause any unnecessary irritation and was chemical-free.

The most common ingredient in the Pityriasis Rosea treatments and products that I found through my online research was coconut oil. So with that knowledge, I decided that I would use it as my primary skin treatment. I purchased a jar of organic virgin coconut oil and applied it generously to every area where the rash was present. Coconut oil comes in a solid form, so my process was to place a couple table spoons in a bowl and microwave it for a few seconds to soften it up. Here are a few additional helpful tips about rubbing coconut oil into your skin. 1) You'll probably need some help. 2) It's very messy - it is oil after all. 3) You should have a few old t-shirts handy that you don't mind ruining. I applied the oil in the mornings and didn't shower it off for 4 hours. Fortunately, I work from home, so doing this during the day was a bit easier for my schedule.

The Results

I started all of these changes and treatments between day 7 and 8 of first noticing my rash. I stopped the oil treatment on day 13. Up to that point, the rash had continued to spread throughout my sides and back. It stopped spreading around day 14, and for several days appeared to not change at all. On day 16, it appeared to be somewhat faded, and over the course of the next 3-4 days, it faded dramatically. By day 20, it was completely gone.

My experience with the stages of Pityriasis Rosea lasted a total of less than 3 weeks. Were any or all of these efforts responsible for accelerating the healing and recovery? I can't say with certainty, but I do believe so. What I've learned is that there is no absolute cure for Pityriasis Rosea, but I believe that when you treat your body better from the inside, it usually reacts in kind. I also feel that the natural external treatment had an effect.

One last tip I will share that I think should apply to most unidentifiable health conditions. The internet is not a reliable source to diagnose yourself. I am as guilty as anyone for trying anything to avoid the doctor. The loss of time and the anxiety that it causes can often make the situation worse. It's best to get checked out by a professional so you know what you're dealing with and can make informed decisions on how to treat it.

~ Nathan