The short answer to the question is I don’t know. Apparently I’m not the only one that doesn’t know, the medical community does not know.
Pityriasis rosea is a skin rash. The rash basically affects the back, the torso and may spread to the arms legs and chest. The initial outbreak looks like a circular or oval raised rash. Over the next couple of weeks, additional outbreaks occur but each subsequent manifestation is not as large as the first original outbreak. In other words, there is a mother rash center and the rest are smaller bumps (The American Academy of Dermatology has a good photo of the “mother” rash).
In some cases, as with mine, prior to the initial outbreak there are symptoms of headache and fatigue. Some people also get nauseous. The headache and fatigue lasts for about 2 or 3 days. Then about a week afterwards, the first outbreak appears.
What Causes Pityriasis Rosea?
No one really knows. What the medical community does know is that is not caused by a virus, bacteria or a fungus. It is not contagious and requires no medical intervention. Some people seek medical help to reduce the itchiness, but other than that, no intervention is needed. It goes away by itself over a period of 6 to 8 weeks.
My Theory on This Bout of Pityriasis Rosea
Keep in mind this is just my theory (and my theories have been wrong before). I’m thinking this outbreak has something to do with detoxing. Over the last year I’ve been taking steps towards cleaning up my diet and reducing my chemical exposures.
On a dietary level, I only eat real, unprocessed foods. I’ve ditched all additives and food chemicals. I make sure to purchase beef from grass fed cows, free range chickens and wild salmon. Keeping in mind that the food is only as pure as my supplier says it is, I realize nothing is 100% fool proof.
I’ve reduced my grain consumption and basically eat organic grains purchased from the health store. I’ve dumped wheat and products with wheat. I cook 99% of my own food and am thoughtful of my food choices when eating out.
On the chemical front, I make all of my own cleaning products, dropped beauty products with ingredients I’m not familiar with and stopped using toxic hair colors for my hair (henna is a great alternative).
To help remove additional toxins from my system, I juice my veggies a few times a week and have been known to drink a shot or two of wheatgrass when available. In other words, I’ve made quite a few changes in an attempt to clean up my act.
Since my body is full of toxins, it is my theory that as I continue making cleaner choices, the cells containing the old toxins eventually die off. Those toxins are finding their way out of my system. I’ve gone thorough the early flu-like symptoms when I first started on this journey. Since then, I keep an eye out for potential detoxing symptoms.
In my case, I feel pityriasis rosea is my body’s way of tossing out toxins that live far beneath the surface. It has been several months of cleaner eating and almost a year without MSG, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and the like, maybe I’m finally getting to the deep seeded toxins that were never disturbed before. Now that they no longer receive their daily dose of processed food poisons, they are dying off and my body is getting rid of them in the form of my not so attractive outbreak.
Staying the Course
At my age I’m not putting on a bikini nor am I showing too much of my skin, so my outbreak isn’t noticeable to the general public. At its worst it was slightly itchy, but all signs of itchiness are gone now. The rash isn’t attractive, but it will go away over time. In the meanwhile, life goes on as usual.
As with all symptoms of detoxification, if I keep doing the right thing eventually I’ll feel better than I did before, so I’m staying the course.
Update 5/4/13: I resolved this slightly uncomfortable situation within a week by taking diatomaceous earth. I started taking DE on April 26th. I noticed a gradual improvement within 4 days and by the 7th day all signs of pityriasis rosea had disappeared! Hopefully I’ll get around to writing a full post on the wonders of diatomaceous earth.