A rosea rash, also called pityriasis rosea, is a common, mild skin condition that causes the epidermis to become inflamed and scaly. While these rashes primarily affect older children and young adults, babies can also suffer from this health ailment. Consult your pediatrician if you think your child has a rosea rash.
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Rosea rashes generally start as one big, scaly spot on your baby's stomach, back or chest. This initial spot, called a "herald" or a "mother patch," usually spreads out in a pattern that looks like pine tree branches. Smaller, pink patches might also appear on your infant's face, arms or legs. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that around half of the rosea rash cases include itching. According to MayoClinic.com, before the mother patch appears, your baby might show upper respiratory infection symptoms, such as a low-grade fever or a stuffy nose.
Although the exact cause of rosea rashes is unknown, as of 2010, many medical researchers believe they are caused by viral infections. MayoClinic.com notes that a rosea rash might be triggered by exposure to certain types of the human herpes virus. These rashes are not thought to be contagious, however. NYU's Langone Medical Center adds that pityriasis rosea might also be caused by certain heart medications and antibiotics.
The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that rosea rash symptoms usually last from four to eight weeks. Contact your pediatrician if the symptoms last longer than three months. Your baby's doctor might treat a long-lasting rosea rash with antiviral medications or light therapy. Prescription antihistamines and steroid ointments or creams might help to reduce the redness and itching.
Bathe your baby in lukewarm water, which might be less irritating to the rash than hot water. Oatmeal bath products might help to relieve some of the itchiness. You can help soothe your baby's inflamed skin by gently rubbing calamine lotion or zinc oxide cream on the rash. Ask your doctor about giving your infant over-the-counter oral antihistamines.
The American Academy of Dermatology notes that rosea rashes are often mistaken for ringworm infections or other skin conditions during the early stages. Rosea rashes typically appear in the spring and the fall, notes the Langone Medical Center. Pityriasis rosea usually doesn't leave any permanent scars, although babies with darker skin might have brown spots that will eventually fade.