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Patchy Itchy Skin

Patchy Itchy Skin


Patchy itchy skin may be a benign skin rash but may also signal a precancerous growth on your skin. Pityriasis rosea and actinic keratosis may form itchy patches on your skin. Mild pityriasis rosea may not require treatment but actinic keratosis is a precancerous growth that you should address immediately. Visit your doctor anytime unexplained changes occur on your skin or if your condition gets worse.


Viruses or lifestyle practices may cause your patchy itchy skin. According to the National Insitutes of Health, pityriasis rosea may be caused by a virus. notes that the precise cause of pitriases rosea is unknown but may be associated with strains of the human herpes virus. Actinic keratosis is caused by sun exposure and long-term daily sun exposure increases your risk for developing this condition


Pityriasis rosea is a skin rash may start as a single, slightly raised and scaly patch on your back, chest or abdomen. Smaller patches may begin to form as the condition progresses. The rash may sweep out from the center of your body on your back, chest or stomach and the shape of the rash may resemble a pine tree branch. Each patch may look like a scale that is attached at sharp edges and loose at the center. The center may look crinkled like cigarette paper. Actinic keratosis is a rash that may look like a rough or scaly patch that appears on areas of your skin that are normally exposed to the sun. The patch may form on your face, lips or ears. Actinic keratosis can also affect your hands, forearms scalp or neck. An actinic keratosis patch may be flat or slightly raised and less than an inch wide. This patch may develop a rough wart-like surface. You may experience itching or burning where this rash appears.

Risk Factors

You may be more likely to develop pityriasis rosea in fall or spring. Pitriasis may affect you at any age but occurs more in older children and young adults. You may have a higher risk for developing actinic keratosis if you have light skin, blue or green eyes, blond or red hair. Older individuals may be more likely to develop actinic keratosis. You may have a higher risk for the condition if you experienced several severe sunburns earlier in life.


Treating pityriasis rosea may include gentle bathing, mild lubricants or creams or mild hydrocortisone creams that can help sooth inflammation. Oral antihistamines can help reduce itching that occurs with pityriasis rosea. Actinic keratosis may be removed by burning or a physician may scrape the lesion away with electricity to kill any remaining cells. Your doctor may recommend cutting the actinic keratosis lesion out with surgical excision or freezing the patch with cryotherapy.


Complications from pityriasis rosea are uncommon but may include sever itching and lasting skin discoloration. Pityriasis rosea may leave behind brown spots on darker skin after the rash heals. Actinic keratosis spots can progress into a form of skin cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma. Actinic keratoses can invade surrounding tissues and spread to other parts of your body as the spot grows.

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