Why Is There A Big, Round, Tan Spot On Your Skin?

Waking up one day to find a large, round, tan-colored spot on your skin can be a bit unnerving. The spot may be on your midsection, or even on your arms or legs. You may even have several of these big spots, and the skin around them might be scaly and itchy. Chances are, you're dealing with a skin condition called pityriasis rosea. You should see a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment. Here's a closer look at what's involved.

How Is Pityriasis Rosea Diagnosed?

Your dermatologist will look at your skin and evaluate the patches. They'll want to make sure they are, indeed, consistent with Pityriasis Rosea. Sometimes, patches caused by ringworm or psoriasis can look similar, so your doctor will want to rule out these conditions.

Your dermatologist will also talk to you about any other symptoms you're experiencing. It is important that you share everything you're experiencing, even if it seems irrelevant. Common symptoms of Pityriasis Rosea include a low-key headache, general fatigue, and joint pain. So, you may have assumed a sore knee or ankle was unrelated to the patches on your skin, when really it's a classic symptom that could help with your diagnosis.

How Is Pityriasis Rosea Treated?

If your dermatologist agrees you have Pityriasis Rosea, there are a few treatments they are likely to recommend. First off, they'll probably prescribe you an emollient cream, or recommend that you pick one up at a pharmacy. An emollient cream will help trap moisture in your skin and will also prevent cold air, hot water, and other irritants from making your symptoms worse. 

You may also be prescribed a steroid cream, such as hydrocortisone cream. When applied to the irritated patch, this cream can help relieve inflammation and pain so you get over your Pityriasis Rosea sooner.

Finally, you may be given an oral antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine. These medications are good at relieving itching, and they can also help you sleep. Getting sleep with an itchy rash-like Pityriasis Rosea can be difficult, but sleeping well is one key to a good recovery. After a few nights of taking antihistamines, you should feel a whole lot better.

If you wake up to a big, round, tan patch on your skin — or several of these patches — don't hesitate to contact your dermatologist. Pityriasis Rosea is a likely explanation, and this condition is rather easy to diagnose and treat.