Pityriasis rosea is a skin condition that causes a “Christmas tree” rash. It starts with one patch, known as the “mother patch,” and branches out with smaller “daughter patches” on other parts of the body.
Although the rash will go away on its own with time, some people turn to medication, topical treatments, and dietary changes in an attempt to improve their symptoms (
This article explores whether any diet, supplements, or other treatments can help treat pityriasis rosea.
Pityriasis rosea is a skin condition. It causes scaly, oval-shaped rashes that begin on the stomach, back, or chest and branch out onto the neck, arms, and legs (
It’s considered a self-limiting condition, meaning that it goes away on its own. It typically lasts 6–8 weeks, though it can last longer in some people (
In most cases, the rash does not return once it has gone away, although one small study estimated that around 25% of people will experience recurrence (
Some, but not all, people with pityriasis rosea experience mild itching. Other symptoms of the condition are fatigue, nausea, headaches, fever, and sore throat. These symptoms can occur before or at the same time as the rash (
Sometimes, pityriasis rosea is mistaken for other skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, or ringworm. Your doctor may order blood tests to rule out other conditions before confirming a pityriasis rosea diagnosis.
The cause of pityriasis rosea is not known. Some speculate that it could be associated with a viral infection because it has been shown to spread through communities (
Anyone can get pityriasis rosea, but it’s most common between the ages of 10 and 35 and in those who are pregnant (
Pityriasis rosea in pregnancy may be linked to miscarriage, especially during the first 15 weeks, although this correlation is not confirmed (
Because the rash goes away on its own with time, treatment is typically focused on symptom relief. Medical treatment can include antihistamines, topical steroids, and light therapy, all of which aim to reduce the intensity of itching (
Pityriasis rosea is a skin condition associated with a rash that can be itchy. The rash goes away on its own, often after 6–8 weeks, and treatment typically focuses on symptom relief.
No research directly supports the idea that dietary changes can help manage pityriasis rosea.
Still, some people believe that eating an anti-inflammatory diet might improve itching. An anti-inflammatory diet is high in foods that provide antioxidants, beneficial compounds that help prevent oxidative stress in your body (
Because pityriasis rosea is thought to be associated with increased oxidative stress, eating a diet high in antioxidants theoretically makes sense. However, there is currently no research supporting this idea (
Similarly, some people believe that the Autoimmune Protocol — a diet that aims to lower inflammation — could reduce pityriasis rosea symptoms (
In theory, a diet that decreases inflammation in your body might help manage the itching associated with the condition. However, no research supports this idea.
Current research doesn’t suggest that any specific dietary changes can treat pityriasis rosea. Still, some people theorize that anti-inflammatory or antioxidant-rich diets might help relieve itching.
Pityriasis rosea usually goes away on its own, without requiring treatment. Still, certain supplements, topical treatments, medications, and lifestyle changes may offer some relief for those who experience irritated, itchy skin.
No strong evidence indicates that any supplements could help treat pityriasis rosea. However, certain supplements may relieve itchy skin in general.
Research suggests that vitamin D may relieve skin itch associated with eczema, a condition that makes skin red and itchy. One study found that taking 1,500–1,600 IU of vitamin D per day reduced the severity of the symptoms (
Fish oil is another supplement that has been shown to benefit the skin. One study in rats found that a daily fish oil supplement relieved itchiness associated with dry skin (
Taking turmeric as a supplement and applying it topically may also help relieve itchy skin thanks to turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (
Lastly, animal studies have found that compounds in bilberry may relieve itchy skin (
Keep in mind that although these potential anti-itch benefits of vitamin D, fish oil, turmeric, and bilberry are promising, more research in humans is still needed.
Further, these supplements have not been studied specifically in relation to pityriasis rosea. If you’re experiencing itchy skin from the rash, it’s best to talk with your doctor to see if any of these supplements are worth a try.
Certain topical treatments may relieve some of the itching caused by pityriasis rosea.
Hydrocortisone is a cream that reduces your skin’s immune response to relieve itching, swelling, and redness. However, it’s not recommended for long-term use, so it’s a good idea to check with your doctor if you’re interested in trying it (15).
Another option is calamine lotion. It contains zinc oxide, an essential mineral that can help with itching. It does so by decreasing the effects of histamine, a compound that’s part of your body’s immune response and is associated with symptoms like itching (
Applying aloe vera may also cool and calm itchy skin. You can find bottled aloe vera in stores or use the gel from a fresh aloe vera leaf. When looking for aloe vera products, check out the ingredients and choose one that has aloe vera listed first (
Interestingly, oatmeal has been found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may soothe irritated skin. Simply add 1–2 cups of oats to a bath and soak for 15–20 minutes. You can also look for lotions containing oatmeal to enjoy its benefits (
While these topical remedies may provide some relief, they won’t treat the condition. Further, even though they’re generally considered safe, it’s best to talk with your doctor before trying them, especially if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Your doctor may be able to prescribe a stronger topical treatment if none of these over-the-counter options do the trick.
Over-the-counter antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and cetirizine (Zyrtec) can relieve itching by blocking the effects of histamine. Keep in mind, though, that some types may make you sleepy (
Acyclovir, a drug often used to treat chickenpox, may also help those with pityriasis rosea. In fact, research has found that it may reduce skin redness, relieve symptoms, and even reduce the duration of rash (
A type of anti-inflammatory medications known as corticosteroids may also improve symptoms, although they are recommended only for severe or lingering cases of the condition. One study found that relapse rate was higher in those who were treated with a corticosteroid (
Some lifestyle factors may affect your skin, especially if you’re dealing with a rash.
Try to avoid hot temperatures, as they can cause sweating, which might irritate your rash. Hot baths and showers and perfume-containing soaps and lotions may also cause irritation.
Because symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, fever, and sore throat can occur before or at the same time as the rash, be sure to get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and check in with your doctor to make sure you’re staying healthy.
Although pityriasis rosea can’t be cured, certain medications, topical treatments, supplements, and lifestyle changes may reduce your symptoms.
There is currently no research to suggest that dietary changes can help treat or manage pityriasis rosea.
However, remedies such as antihistamines and topical treatments can help relieve itchy, irritated skin. And avoiding hot temperatures may help you avoid further irritating your skin.
It’s best to talk with your doctor to find out which options may work best for you — especially if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Remember, the rash usually goes away on its own without treatment.
Just one thing
Try this today: If you’re experiencing itchiness from pityriasis rosea and can’t see a doctor anytime soon, you can start home treatment by making a soothing oatmeal bath. Simply add 1–2 cups of oats to lukewarm water and soak in it for 15–20 minutes.
Make sure the water isn’t too hot and avoid using harsh soaps or fragranced lotions.