Pityriasis Lichenoides Chronica - Western SummaryWestern Medicine Summary

Western Medicine

Western Summary

Pityriasis lichenoides chronica is a chronic scaly rash that often lasts months to years. There is a related condition, pityriasis lichenoides et varioliformis acuta (PLEVA), that more often occurs in a younger age group and is usually self-limited over a shorter time period. 


Pityriasis lichenoides chronica is a skin rash characterized most often by red, scaly, flat-topped papules on the trunk and upper extremities, though other body parts can be involved.[1] 



The exact cause(s) of pityriasis lichenoides chronica is unknown. It is known to be characterized by the presence of T-cells, a type of inflammatory cell made by the body. Different medications and infections have been implicated as potential causes of pityriasis lichenoides chronica. 



The chronic form of pityriasis can be difficult to treat. 

  • Steroids: Steroids act as an anti-inflammatory agent and immune suppressor. 
  • Antibiotics: Although pityriasis lichenoides chronica is not due to an infection, antibiotics may help through their anti-inflammatory actions.[1]
  • Immunosuppressants: In more difficult to treat cases, a qualified healthcare provider may use immunosuppressants such as methotrexate and etanercept,[2,3] although there are few studies on these medications.
  • Light therapy with ultraviolet light type B has been successful in some cases.[4]

1.    Khachemoune A, Blyumin ML. Pityriasis lichenoides: pathophysiology, classification, and treatment. Am J Clin Dermatol.2007;8(1):29-36; PMID: 17298104.

2.    Nikkels AF, Gillard P, Pierard GE. Etanercept in therapy multiresistant overlapping pityriasis lichenoides. J Drugs Dermatol.2008;7(10):990-992; PMID: 19112768.

3.    Lin CY, Cook J, Purvis D. Febrile ulceronecrotic Mucha-Habermann disease: a case with systemic symptoms managed with subcutaneous methotrexate. Australas J Dermatol.2012;53(4):e83-86; PMID: 23157793.

4.    Ersoy-Evans S, Hapa AA, Boztepe G, et al. Narrowband ultraviolet-B phototherapy in pityriasis lichenoides chronica. J Dermatolog Treat.2009;20(2):109-113; PMID: 19016063.