Pityriasis rubra pilaris (PRP) is a rare, chronic skin condition which is characterized by red to orange discoloration of scaly skin with severe flaking. The hairs are curled on top of the lesion. The lesions rarely spread universally over the body but more often they affect certain parts of the body. The trunk, neck and the extremities are normally involved. Men and women are equally affected and it may occur in children as well as adults.
Etiology of pityriasis rubra pilaris still remains unknown to researchers but an inherited metabolic defect is suspected to be one of the underlying causes.The familial type develops in childhood while the acquired variety is seen later in life, usually after the age of 50. Except for the issue of its cosmetic appearance, the condition is not harmful in anyway. PAP may respond to large doses of vitamin A, foods containing vitamins and application of natural emollients.
Causes Of Pityriasis Rubra Pilaris
The exact etiology of pityriasis rubra pilaris is not known. The condition affects equally in men and women and there is no racial discrimination for its onset. Some cases are believed to occur as a result of genetic inheritance, especially when it develops in children.The acquired form is often observed after the fifth decade of life; however it can develop at any age. Acquired variety may have an association with skin cancer. So if it occurs in adults, it is necessary to rule out skin cancer.
Another school of thought believes there is some type of fault in metabolizing vitamin A. However, more research is necessary to come for a conclusion. It is also believed to develop due to an abnormal immune response though with no absolute certainty.
Pityriasis Rubra Pilaris Symptoms
The typical symptoms of pityriasis rubra pilaris consist of inflammation and scaling of skin. The patches over the skin are raised and are red to orange in appearance. These raised spots are known as papules. They are diagnostic feature of Pityriasis rubra pilaris. There is mild itching. The papules are covered with scales and hairs curled on top of the scales. It usually begins on neck, chest, scalp and face. After few weeks it may spread to other parts of body which includes palm, soles, elbow and knees. In severe cases it may even spread to nails and eyelids.
The rash on palms and soles become thick. They develop painful crack and fissures. The condition begins with severe itching, but over a period of time, it reduces. Lesions having familial cause progress rapidly, while those that are acquired and develop later in life progress slowly.
Often pityriasis rubra pilaris is confused with other skin conditions such as psoriasis. However, with skin biopsy it is possible to differentiate between both the conditions.
Home Remedies For Pityriasis Rubra Pilaris
There is no cure for pityriasis rubra pilaris. The condition may prolong lifetime if the cause is familial. The acquired form may periodically become better only to recur once again after a period of remission. The main aim is to reduce the severity of symptoms, so that the patient feels more comfortable.
- Emmolient creams are used to reduce dryness. Vegetable oils are effective emollients. You can use coconut oil to lubricate the dry scaly lesions which may produce cracks and fissures. Apply it over the surface at night so that absorption is complete.
- Steroid ointments and creams are also found effective in relieving the symptoms, but they should be used after consulting your physician.
- Eat foods containing vitamin A. Fish and other sea food contain high amount of this vitamin. Your doctor may also prescribe vitamin A supplement.
- Exposure to ultraviolet rays of sun in combination with oral drugs may be useful in reducing the intensity of symptoms.