Some months ago, I was covered in a splotchy rash known as pityriasis rosea for the second time in my life. The splotches started on my torso, but eventually branched out to my arms and legs.
PR usually occurs in those between 10 and 35 years old, and recurs in 2% of people. That would be me! I had this in my youth. There is no known cause, they still don’t know if it’s bacterial though it’s thought to be viral, it’s not contagious, and there’s no cure. It usually runs its course in 5 to 6 weeks, but for some, it can last MONTHS. I have a patient that had been suffering for a year. Some people also have itching, which can be severe. It starts with what is known as a herald patch, one small spot that is often mistaken for ringworm. It then spreads in a pattern like a pine tree, usually on the torso, it can go to the legs and arms, but rarely spreads to the face. Mine was all over, except my face. I was more rash than not. So how did I heal myself sooner than later? First I saw my dermatologist first. They can quickly rule out all things fungal. Their treatment? None. That's right, there's not an actual treatment for PR. My derm looked me over, confirmed my suspicions, and said you can come back if it doesn't go away eventually. But even then, there's not a treatment that targets healing.
Onward, I got acupuncture (of course!), needled myself often as well, and used moxabustion over some areas, I used the Plum Blossom needle on specific points to vent heat and wind according to Chinese medicine - see a professional acupuncturist for this. I used acupuncture points for clearing heat, for wind, damp, and extra points known to help with the skin and clearing. I could see a marked improvement with some points, especially if I 'surrounded' the most aggravated areas; this is just not practical for the whole body, but it does show that the body responds well to acupuncture for this condition.
And herbs - I took an internal form of ai ye or mugwort as well after seeing my own acupuncturist. This recommendation of herbs might be different for someone else - we treat according to your own constitution.
Importantly, I sat in the sun, it’s one of the main things thought to help, so I would get about 30 minutes in the sun twice a day - not enough to burn, and I had spf on my face. You could substitute with a tanning bed if there's zero sun or no place for you to sit undisturbed with your skin exposed. But protect your face/eyes, and don't overdo, the last thing you need is inflammation from overexposure.
And I dry brushed like a crazy person - gently. Get a quality dry brush meant for skincare, and start at your feet, stroking upward on your limbs, circles on the joints, then upward and towards the heart on the torso. If your dry brush has a handle, do the same for your back and hard to reach affected areas - light pressure is all that is needed. I have found dry brushing can instantly reduce the inflammatory signs in the skin, reducing redness, removing dry skin, and increasing circulation - this will help vent and move the rash on its way faster.
Make sure to hydrate well afterwards with a nourishing body oil or lotion. I used Kindred Skincare's body oil - I felt the stimulating mustard oil and other nourishing, healing ingredients would be best for me. You can use a favorite, but I would limit potentially irritating ingredients like essential oils for now, especially since you'll be sitting in the sun. The skin will heal faster if it is hydrated, so make this a priority.
I also took Olive Leaf Extract. The reason? The extract is a powerful natural immune booster, it is naturally anti fungal, antiviral and anti-bacterial. Research has shown a connection for the extract oleuropein and clearing the lungs - a direct connection to the skin in Chinese medicine. It has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties for the skin, so I decided to use this to support internally. Note, this is the leaf, not the fruit.
If your skin is incredibly dry or itchy as well, you can try soaking in a bath with epsom salt and magnesium. Dry brush first, then soak, the pat dry and follow with hydration.
My PR ran its course in a little over a month. It got much worse on my legs, then started fading where it showed up first, on my torso, and finally worked its way down my legs until gone.
Then I considered how much stress had to do with this popping up. Upon review, something had come up that worked me over. I’m not saying that was the cause, but it sure made me stop and think stress is not worth my health! And I made time to meditate - you know the old adage, you can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you react. .
This condition falls in the category of dermatology in Chinese medicine. If you find yourself with PR that is itchy, uncomfortable, or just not clearing, try a Chinese medicine practitioner who also knows herbs to send it on its way much faster. I currently prescribe herbal formulas for those I work with, based on their own presentation and constitution. It can be different for each person, otherwise, I'd love to say try formula XYZ, but you need to be properly assessed. I would hop on the sun bath/meditation, dry brushing, the olive leaf extract, and keeping the skin nourished while you heal.
I’m in Austin if this comes up for you. I also now offer consultations for long distance recommendations, see my booking page for more.