Pityriasis Rosea

I’m going to talk about a personal topic in the hope it may come up in a search and help another sufferer. About this time last year I was suffering with a rash; one I’d diagnosed before I saw a doctor because it began with what they call an ‘herald patch’. This is a single oval patch of pink to red scaly skin that will appear a couple of days or more before the full rash breaks out.

Mine was tender, a little itchy because it was where clothes tend to rub and I thought that was all it was — I thought it would go away. Within a week I had a widespread rash all over my chest, neck, back, and it kept spreading (I was dreading in case it went to my face and scarred), reaching to my arms and the back of my hands. NHS advice was if went to the back of my hands it was imperative I saw a doctor. The doctor didn’t see it this way — said ‘that’s nothing’ with a dismissive attitude. I love contradictory information.

After much consideration and a blood test that revealed nothing, the doctor decided I had what I said I had: Pityriasis Rosea. Emphasis on the ‘pity’ with good reason. I haven’t included photos here because of possible copyright problems, but also because I don’t want a visual reminder. Do a search — photos will readily appear.

Doctors aren’t entirely sure what causes this rash though stress can induce a breakout, and I was, indeed, going through a lot of stress. Though not painful, it can itch…and boy, did it itch! It got so bad I would wake up realising I’d been scratching in my sleep. I was prescribed a small tube of cream I forget the name of now but some patches did start to dry. Trouble was, I still itched, and I wasn’t meant to use this cream for more than a few days; the tube was so tiny I didn’t think it would even last that long. I was also advised that the rash, even when/if it stopped itching, could last 6 months before it completely disappeared.

Second doctor gave me a prescription for antihistamines, which were cheaper over the counter. I was also given a huge bottle of E45 anti-itch cream, cheaper on prescription as it would have cost me over £30. By then I’d tried most creams I could find and, desperate for relief of any kind, I slathered the damn stuff on. The doctor had told me I really couldn’t use enough of this stuff. I went to bed, hoping and looking forward to some rest after too many sleepless nights. I was up within the hour wanting to rip off my skin.  Unable to bear it for another second, I jumped in the shower frantic to wash away the cream. Said cream later went in the bin. I’d followed Doctor’s advice only to make the rash ten times worse. When removing skin starts to seem a good idea, there’s a real problem.

I’d done lots of online reading, of course, and I know they say don’t play internet doctor but when there’s no help and advice makes the situation worse, there’s little alternative. I’d found some things to wash in that were helping but none were killing the itch for more than an hour. I was so miserable I moaned on Facebook and ‘friends’, close and not so close, chimed in. I have to thank my friend, Cheryl, for telling me to try washing in Bicarbonate of Soda.

After the debacle with E45 I decided to patch test first and, after my experience, would advise this with anything prescribed or otherwise anyone uses to ease a rash. I used the Bicarbonate as a sort of salt scrub (I’d tried one of those too but it hadn’t worked), lightly rubbing it on and showering off, but you can put a cupful in the bath and soak. Note: anyone with diabetes or other medical issues may need to check whether this is safe.

I started to see an improvement almost immediately. I used it a couple of times a day for about a week and also bathed in Aveeno bath and shower wash and used Aveeno cream. While it took a few weeks for all the marks to fade, the itch eased within hours. So that’s my advice. Check it’s safe to use medically, and do a patch test, but try Bicarbonate of Soda and Aveeno, though I hope you never need to; this rash may not be serious but it makes a person miserable.