What is Christmas tree rash?

Back of a boy with pityriasis rosea

The human skin can be the site of many dermatological conditions, displaying a wide array of distressing signs and symptoms. Christmas tree rash, known in the medical world as “pityriasis rosea,” is a great example of such a condition. Despite its festive nickname, it is not related to Christmas but is related to the colder seasons. It often causes considerable concern and discomfort, especially due to the mysterious nature of its causality and the appearance of the rashes. In this article, let’s learn more about Christmas tree rash, its manifestation, potential causes, and management strategies, including natural treatments.

Understanding Pityriasis Rosea, the “Christmas Tree Rash”

Christmas tree rash daughter patch weeks after mother patch

So, what is Christmas tree rash? Known medically as pityriasis rosea, it is a common skin disorder typically characterized by the sudden appearance of a distinctive big pink or red scaly rash patch called the “herald patch.” As its name implies, the herald patch or “mother” patch usually appears first and then followed by several other smaller patches known as “daughter patches.”

The herald patch occurs on most, but not all cases of pityriasis rosea and appears on the trunk. The scaly oval daughter patches of rashes often develop along the trunk or the torso’s lines of cleavage (Langer’s lines of cleavage) in a symmetrical pattern that resembles a Christmas tree. The daughter patches tend to appear in groups in a span of 1-2 weeks.

These patches usually heal within 8 weeks in most patients. They also do not cause pain, but they can be itchy. The itch is generally mild, but severe itching can occur in some cases.

See related: What are the different types of skin rashes?

Causes and Triggers of Christmas Tree Rash

Man coughing, his right hand balled and covering his mouth, his left hand holding a blanket to his chest, he's sitting on a gray sofa

Although the exact cause of Christmas tree rash remains unknown, several theories have been proposed to explain its etiology. These include viral infections, bacterial infections, vaccinations, and medications. This research study suggests possible links with viral infections, particularly human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) or 7 (HHV-7). Moreover, this skin condition occurs seasonally and in groups of people living together, suggesting viral origin. Interestingly, the rash develops after a bout of what looks like an upper respiratory infection, after a vaccination, or after taking certain medications.

Therapeutic Approaches for Christmas Tree Rash

Woman applying medicated cream to inflamed skin

In most cases, pityriasis rosea is a self-limiting condition that resolves by itself within 8 weeks. However, symptom management with medical treatments can provide relief to symptomatic cases.

  • Antihistamines. You can use over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines to calm the itching of the rashes.
  • Lotions and creams. Topical steroid creams and emollients can also soothe the itching and help reduce inflammation.
  • Antiviral and antibacterial medication. In some cases, doctors may prescribe antiviral medications like acyclovir or antibacterial medications like macrolides. These help soothe the itch and make the resolution of these lesions faster.
  • Light therapy. For persistent cases, doctors might recommend ultraviolet (UV) light therapy under controlled conditions.

See related: Allergic reaction skin rash treatment

Discovering Natural Treatments for Christmas Tree Rash

Having discussed the conventional treatments for Christmas tree rash, let’s dive into the natural treatment options that can potentially help relieve its symptoms. Some extracts can be useful adjuncts to conventional treatments, possessing similar benefits like antibacterial, antiviral, and emollient properties.

The following plant extracts can potentially help with Christmas tree rash:

  • Tea tree oil [1] [2] [3]
  • Myrrh essential oil [4] [5] [6]
  • Lemongrass essential oil [7,8] [9] [10]
  • Bergamot essential oil [11] [12] [13]
  • Chamomile essential oil [14, 15]
  • Lavender essential oil [16] [17]
  • Chaga mushroom extract [18] [19, 20, 21] [22, 23]
  • Grapefruit essential oil [24,25] [26, 27] [28, 29]
  • Frankincense essential oil [30] [31] [32]
  • Cypress essential oil [33] [34] [35]
  • Arnica essential oil [36,37,38] [39]

Essential oils are potent substances that should be used with caution. Always dilute them with carrier oils before applying them to the skin and conduct a patch test before use to ensure that you will have no adverse reactions. Most importantly, use these oils under the guidance of a health professional, especially for those who are pregnant and for people with sensitive skin.

See related: Natural treatments for psoriasis: a look into the world of scaly skin

CANhaveTODAY’s Natural Blends for Christmas Tree Rash Relief

For those seeking natural adjunct treatments, CANhaveTODAY features skin care products with therapeutic plant extracts, exhibiting powerful anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and moisturizing properties. These products may provide symptomatic relief for Christmas tree rash, and each of the salves is infused with jojoba oil, tea tree oil, chamomile oil, and lavender oil along with their unique formulations for individualized needs.

Waters Mist

Waters Mist New Product Photo

Waters Mist is a salve that boasts the highest concentration of tea tree oil combined with lemongrass oil and cinnamon essential oil. This power trio provides potent antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and soothing properties that can aid in the management of pityriasis rosea symptoms.

Healing Legends

Healing Legends New Product Photo

Infused with frankincense, myrrh, and bergamot essential oils, the Healing Legends salve is made to assist in the healing process. These oils provide calming, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial benefits, creating a soothing environment for irritated skin.

Sparkling Rain

Sparkling Rain New Product Photo

With chaga mushroom extract, grapefruit essential oil, shea butter, and mango seed oil, Sparkling Rain is an all-natural moisturizer that nourishes and hydrates the skin while offering anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

Soothing Juggernaut

Soothing Juggernaut New Product Photo

Soothing Juggernaut features frankincense, arnica, and cypress essential oils. These essential oils are known for their ability to calm inflammation and fight bacteria. Moreover, frankincense and cypress possess moisturizing properties that may help soothe the itch of Christmas tree rash.

CANhaveTODAY offers an array of essential oil-infused skincare products, featuring combinations of natural ingredients with anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and moisturizing properties that can potentially help manage Christmas tree rash symptoms. As always, it is crucial to consult with a physician before using a new product to ensure the suitability of the product for your skin’s specific needs. A quick note: These products contain Sodium borate. The government of Canada does not recommend the use of products containing Sodium borate on open wounds, cuts, or abrasions.

Christmas tree rash: Mystery Yet to be Uncovered

Christmas tree rash or pityriasis rosea. While generally harmless, can cause stress due to its appearance and the itch associated with it. However, understanding its nature, symptoms, potential triggers, and available treatments can help individuals manage this condition effectively. While we still have to uncover its true cause, we can manage its symptoms to make our lives more comfortable. Alongside conventional treatments, essential oils in CANhaveTODAY’s products may help provide complementary relief. However, consultation with a doctor is vital before starting any new treatment to ensure its safety for your unique needs.


What is Christmas tree rash?

Christmas tree rash or pityriasis rosea is a skin condition of unknown origin that causes pink rashes to appear on the trunk and lines of cleavage in the body, giving a characteristic Christmas tree-like appearance.

What causes Christmas tree rash?

The exact cause of Christmas tree rash is unknown, but research findings suggest that it is related to the human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) and human herpesvirus 7 (HHV-7). It occurs in clusters and seasonally, which suggests its viral origin. It is also associated with a bout of upper respiratory infection-like symptoms.

How does Christmas tree rash present?

Christmas tree rash usually starts with a big patch of pink rashes on the trunk, called the herald patch or mother patch. Then, several smaller patches called daughter patches appear. These rashes can be itchy, but not painful. It can be confused with ringworm or nummular eczema due to the oval appearance of its lesions.

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