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What is Pityriasis Rubra Pilaris (PRP)?

By HERWriter
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Pityriasis rubra pilaris (also known as PRB, Devergie's disease, Lichen ruber acuminatus, and Lichen ruber pilaris) is a chronic skin disorder characterized by reddish orange, scaling (exfoliation) and inflammation of the skin.

Symptoms may include reddish-orange, salmon-colored or pink patches (Latin-rubra) on the skin, severe flaking (Latin-pityriasis), uncomfortable itching, thickening of the skin on the feet and hands and thickened bumps around hair follicles (Latin-pilus for hair). The colored scaly areas cover much of the body. Small "islands" of normal skin are seen within the areas of pink scaly skin. PRP is not really a single condition but rather a group of unusual eruptions that cause red scaly patches containing dry plugged pores.

PRP most often starts as a patchy rash on the scalp, face or chest. Over a period as short a several weeks it extends downward and often covers much of the body. It spares areas of old scars and injuries and leaves small islands of entirely unaffected skin. Rough, dry plugs can be felt within the rash. The itching is usually severe at first and then later is not as bad as you would think considering how bad the rash looks.

For some, early symptoms may also include generalized swelling of the legs, feet and other parts of the body. There is no known cure.

Pityriasis rubra pilaris is often initially mistaken for another skin disorder, usually psoriasis. It may cover the entire body, or just the elbows and knees. There are many different types of pityriasis rubra pilaris. The cause is unknown, although genetic factors may play a role.

PRP mostly affects adults over 40, but some children are also affected. Sometimes minor burns rashes and infections seem to trigger it. There is no blood test for PRP. It is usually diagnosed when a dermatologist, suspecting the condition, does a biopsy and specifically asks it to be checked for PRP. Sometimes PRP is suspected only after the usual creams, pills and even ultraviolet light treatments used for skin conditions have no effect.

Topical creams containing urea or lactic acid may help.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.