Pityriasis Lichenoides is a skin disorder that affects mainly males under the age of 30. The greater majority of cases occur during the early teenage years. It presents as a series of red or brown, scaly patches on the trunk, buttocks and upper legs. The patches are generally asymptomatic though there may be some burning and itching involved.
The biggest issue with this condition is its effect on the appearance, which can cause some embarrassment. Most cases will last for several weeks to several months and will clear up spontaneously within a year.
There are three distinct forms of this condition, an acute, short lived form called PLEVA that is usually found in children, the more common chronic form, called PLC and a very rare febrile ulceronecrotic form of PLEVA, often referred to as Mucha-Habermann disease, which can have accompanying systemic symptoms including fever and nausea.
What causes the condition?
The exact cause of Pityriasis Lichenoides is unknown, though several studies carried out since the 1970’s have managed to identify some potential triggers.
The common denominator among these triggers is a hypersensitivity to infection. Patients who suffer from certain infectious diseases including Epstein-Barr virus, toxoplasmosis, staphylococcus aureus and HIV have a greater tendency to develop PLC or PLEVA.
The exact connection between these conditions is not fully understood but research is ongoing.
Does it need to be treated?
In general, as this condition tends to clear up spontaneously, treatment is not usually necessary. For cases where itching or appearance becomes an issue, corticosteroid creams and ointments applied to the skin often control the rash and itching. Antihistamines such as Benadryl taken by mouth will also help alleviate the itching.
In particularly aggressive cases, systemic steroids and immunosuppressants can be used to alleviate symptoms. Larger lesions that become ulcerative may require first aid measures. Applying topical medications and a sterile dressing can help to facilitate healing.
Unfortunately, at this time the disease can be controlled but not cured. Recent studies have indicated that ultraviolet light treatment will improve pityriasis lichenoides. Both Phototherapy with Psoralen and Photodynamic therapy with UVA and UVB light have had limited success in controlling symptoms, though recurrence remains a possibility.
Because Pityriasis Lichenoides has been connected with other immune disorders, some doctors believe that adapting a diet focused on improving immune system function may help in treating this condition. A balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meats and is free of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars can help to provide all of the nutrients your body needs in order to keep the immune system functioning properly.