Pityriasis Circinata – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Pityriasis circinata

Pityriasis circinata is a rare skin disease that often causes panic in the patient because of the visible changes. Its symptoms are similar to other diseases, so a visit to the doctor is essential to clarify what the cause is. Pityriasis circinata has been described in America, Africa and Australia, but is also very rare in Europe. Little is really known about this disease and little mention of it in the medical literature. Some medical professionals believe these are just symptoms of another, more serious disease.

What is pityriasis circinata?

Pityriasis circinata , also known in the literature as pityriasis rotunda , is a typical skin lesion whose cause is not yet fully understood. It can therefore be caused virally or bacterially. It’s commonly thought of as an allergic reaction , but some researchers have suggested that serious, organic causes also exist.

A clinical study was able to classify two types of pityriasis circinata. Type I occurs primarily in African and Black American males over the age of 60. The skin changes are associated with other organic diseases. Type II, in contrast, occurs in young men under 40. So far, the doctors have not been able to find any evidence of parallel diseases. However, there was an accumulation of pityriasis circinata among relatives.


The causes are so far unknown. Possible causes are viral, bacterial or genetic. Studies show a type I link to liver cancer and stomach cancer . Heart problems and other organ failures are also discussed as causes in the medical literature. This can be an indication of a disturbed metabolism in which certain proteins are no longer properly distributed in the bloodstream due to organ failure.

This makes the skin vulnerable to the outside world. Type II, however, is not associated with any diseases. Clustering in families could indicate a genetic cause. Some researchers also believe that pityriasis circinata may be due to poor or improper diet .

While many studies have shown that pityriasis circinata is associated with other disorders, a precise link has not yet been adequately established. However, most medical professionals rule out an infectious disease. A virus has not yet been isolated. There is also no evidence of sexual transmission, as is the case with syphilis , which has a similar course.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Pityriasis circinata includes various symptoms. There are skin changes that show up as rashes . These are mainly found on the legs, torso and arms. The rash is often circular and stands out against the surrounding skin.

The surface is scaly and the underlying skin darkens, making the round lesions very easy to see. The spots itch and are easily inflamed. Symptoms can also appear in other parts of the body over time. Patients report that they also felt a general malaise during the illness.

The medical literature specifically mentions headaches and migraines , but also a sore throat and subsequent sore throat . When the skin changes developed, fever could also be detected.

Diagnosis & disease progression

The doctor can easily diagnose pityriasis circinata based on the visible changes in the skin. To avoid confusion with other diseases, he will do blood tests. Syphilis patients have similar symptoms, so using these tests he can rule out the disease.

At a more advanced stage, a biopsy of the skin tissue is also performed in the laboratory. Since some doctors associate pityriasis circinata with internal organ diseases, the doctor will also arrange for the patient to be referred to an internist to be on the safe side, who can clarify whether stomach or liver cancer may be present. Cardiac examinations are also carried out.


In the case of pityriasis circinata, those affected suffer from a number of different skin complaints. First and foremost, there are rashes on the skin and changes in the skin in general. These have a very negative effect on the aesthetics of those affected and can significantly reduce them. This can lead to inferiority complexes or low self-esteem.

Especially in children, pityriasis circinata can lead to severe teasing or bullying, so that they develop mental health problems or depression. A general malaise also occurs as a result of the disease. The patients suffer from fever and severe sore throats.

Pain in the head or permanent itching of the skin can also occur and has a very negative effect on the quality of life of those affected. In addition, however, pityriasis circinata can indicate problems in the internal organs, so these must also be examined.

The treatment of this disease is carried out with the help of drugs. There are no complications. However, those affected are dependent on lengthy treatment in order to completely treat all symptoms of the disease.

When should you go to the doctor?

If there is a change or abnormality in the complexion, a doctor should be consulted to assess the symptoms. If a rash, ulcer, itching, or open sore develops, an investigation of the cause is needed so that a treatment plan to relieve symptoms can be devised. Circular rashes are characteristic of pityriasis circinata. These are usually located on the arms, legs or trunk. Flaky skin, discoloration, or general malaise should be evaluated and treated.

If the abnormalities spread or increase in intensity, a doctor’s visit is necessary. If there are also complaints such as headaches, sore throats or a feeling of tightness in the throat, a doctor is also needed. An increased body temperature, impaired vocalization or concentration and attention deficits should be discussed with a doctor. If the patient refuses to eat or if they lose weight unintentionally because of the symptoms, they need medical care.

If you have a migraine or develop psychological problems, you should consult a doctor. A withdrawal behavior, reduced self-esteem, a decrease in well-being and apathy in everyday life indicate health problems. If there are more interpersonal irregularities, conflicts or if the affected person suffers from the skin changes, a doctor should be consulted.

Treatment & Therapy

Since the cause of the disease is not yet known, there is no form of treatment. Doctors therefore try to treat the skin areas directly. After a successful diagnosis of pityriasis circinata, tests for liver and stomach cancer or other diseases in the body follow. The skin itself can be treated by the doctor according to the symptoms.

The doctor will mainly use anti-inflammatory agents and also stop the itching. Up to now, mainly remedies have been used that have shown positive results even with similar symptoms. These include salicylic acid and lactic acid-based products. Lyes, such as soapy water, are perceived as unpleasant by many patients and irritate the diseased skin.

The doctor may prescribe alternative cleansing preparations. For major skin changes, antihistamines are prescribed, which have also shown beneficial effects. A complete treatment is currently not possible. Even after the skin symptoms have subsided, they can in rare cases reappear after some time. The skin changes recede after three to twelve weeks.

Outlook & Forecast

Pityriasis circinata is a relatively rare skin disease in Europe. A detailed differential diagnosis is important for a reliable prognosis. The reason is that some variants of pityriasis circinata seem to occur more frequently in connection with cancers such as leukemia , liver cancer or stomach cancer . However, it is clear that there are two different types of pityriasis circinata.

Caution is advised when there are almost circular, light or dark pigmented and scaly areas of skin on the trunk or extremities. It is obviously not sufficient to just diagnose a skin disease in the presence of pityriasis circinata. Rather, a possibly undiscovered cancer must be ruled out with certainty.

It is unclear whether this skin disease is always an indication of a cancer focus, or whether pityriasis circinata can also occur independently of malignant neoplasms. It is also not known whether pityriasis circinata is a variation of ichthyosis vulgaris. For the prognosis, this means that doctors cannot make any reliable statements without further diagnostics.

It is also problematic that there is no causal therapy for the treatment of pityriasis circinata. The only way to cure this skin disease is to look for an internal disease as a possible trigger. However, purely symptomatic treatment with lactic acid or salicylic acid preparations and topical retinoids is feasible.


It is difficult to recommend prevention when the causes of pityriasis circinata are still unknown. In general, a healthy lifestyle and diet prevents many diseases. Regular exercise and daily, gentle cleansing of the skin. According to the current state of knowledge, pityriasis circinata is more of a symptom of serious internal organ diseases, especially in men over 60 years of age. A healthy body prevents this in particular. Young men who have a family member who has pityriasis circinata need to have their skin checked regularly and have blood tests done when they get sick.


In most cases, those affected by pityriasis circinata only have a few options for aftercare. For this reason, sufferers should ideally see a doctor as soon as the first signs and symptoms of the disease appear, so that there are no further complications or other complaints that could reduce the quality of life. An early diagnosis usually has a very positive effect on the further course of the disease.

The treatment itself is usually carried out with the help of various medications, although creams or ointments can also be used to relieve the symptoms of pityriasis circinata. Those affected should pay attention to correct use and the specified dosage of the medication in order to combat the disease. Furthermore, the skin should be particularly well cared for and protected to prevent infections or inflammation.

If there are changes to the skin, a doctor should be contacted immediately in order to identify and treat further damage at an early stage. As a rule, the further course of pityriasis circinata depends heavily on the time of diagnosis, so that no general prediction can be made about the further course or about the life expectancy of the person affected.

You can do that yourself

As a rule, pityriasis circinata cannot be treated by self-help measures, so that the affected person always needs medical treatment to limit the symptoms and signs of this disease.

Unfortunately, the disease has not been extensively researched, so the treatment options are severely limited. However, pityriasis circinata requires regular check-ups and blood tests to prevent further complications. Taking antihistamines can also relieve the symptoms and should be carried out regularly. Likewise, regular cancer screening should be carried out in pityriasis circinata in order to diagnose and treat cancer in the liver or stomach at an early stage. It cannot generally be predicted whether the disease will lead to a reduced life expectancy. In most cases, however, the skin problems disappear after a few weeks.

If pityriasis circinata leads to mental disorders or depression, talking to friends and family often helps, and contact with other people affected by the disease can also prove to be very useful. There is often an exchange of information.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.