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Pityriasis rubra pilaris

Definition

Pityriasis rubra pilaris is a skin disorder that causes constant inflammation and scaling (exfoliation) of the skin.

Causes

There are many different types of pityriasis rubra pilaris. The cause is unknown, although genetic factors may play a role.

Symptoms

Pityriasis rubra pilaris is a chronic skin condition in which pink, scaly patches and thick skin develop on the hands and feet.

The pink scaly areas cover much of the body. Small islands of normal skin are seen within the areas of pink, scaly skin.

Treatment

Topical creams containing urea or lactic acid may help. More commonly, treatment includes pills taken by mouth such as isotretinoin, acitretin, or methotrexate.

References

James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 11.

Review Date: 
4/13/2013
Reviewed By: 
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.