What is PUPPP?
Did you get a rash during your pregnancy? Are you worried about this rash and wanted to know more about why it is happening and how to deal with it?
Were you told you that you have pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP)?
In this article, we will answer the most common questions to give you everything you need to know about this kind of pregnancy rash and how to manage it.
During your pregnancy, your body goes through different changes inside and out. Your hormones levels are very different from before pregnancy; and your body is getting bigger and heavier.
If it is your first time getting pregnant, there is a chance that your body does not adapt well to these changes.
What causes PUPPP?
- Hormonal changes: This includes a significant increase in progesterone in your body. Elevated progesterone has been identified in women presenting with PUPPP.
- Stretched skin: Excessive and sudden increase in the size of the abdomen is usually the triggering cause of PUPPP. The stretching of the skin on the abdomen often results in an inflammatory response, which leads to itch, scratching, and more inflammation.
The resulting rash on the belly is made up of little bumps that are itchy but not painful. Scratching may aggravate the intensity and extent of the rash.
Who is at higher risk of getting PUPPP?
Some pregnant women are more likely to get this kind of rash. If you present with any of the following, you might be at more risk of getting PUPPP:
- You are having your first baby (first time mums are more likely to experience this)
- You are expecting a baby boy (this is related to fetal DNA)
- You are carrying twins (this increase the extent of stretch of the skin on the abdomen)
What are the symptoms of PUPPP?
PUPPP is known by the characteristics of the rash, this include:
- Itchy red bumps
- Hive-like rash on the belly
- Scattered near your stretch marks
- Spreads to the butt, breasts, thighs, and arms
- Does not affect the neck, face, hands, or feet
Will scratching spread my rash?
While some may say that scratching will not spread your rash, what we see in the clinic is different. As your skin gets aggravated, there is a higher chance of the rash spreading.
When does PUPPP usually start and when does it stop?
In most cases, this rash occurs during the third trimester but in some women, it may start earlier.
You can expect it to stay for the rest of the pregnancy, with some women seeing it resolve only after the birth of the baby.
Will PUPPP harm my baby?
Not to worry, this condition does not affect your unborn baby. While it affects your quality of life, your little one will not be affected by this skin condition.
What medications can help with PUPPP?
Antihistamines and steroids are the usual was to intervene. These are the medications that are known to relieve the itch and reduce inflammation. Some women see significant improvement after using these drugs; some women do not improve significantly.
7 alternative ways to treat PUPPP?
There are some home remedies and some other tools that help with this kind of rash, which include:
- Taking cool baths or showers. Stop taking warm showers, because they aggravate the skin
- Wear only breathable fabrics like cotton. Avoid polyester, nylon or other non breathable fabrics. Avoid linen because although breathable, it may irritate the skin.
- Use fragrance-free and non-caustic soaps.
- Apply cold compresses on your rash
- Apply soothing moisturizer on the affected areas. This is a hit and miss, but sometimes does reap positive results. Calendula, rosehip and even emu oil can be very helpful, but so are many of the conventional creams out there.
- Acupuncture is a very effective way to reduce skin inflammation immediately. You may feel wary about receiving acupuncture during pregnancy, hence it is important to see someone who is experienced in administering acupuncture to pregnant patients.
- Avoid eating red meat, barbeque meat, durians, dairy, and other pro-inflammatory food that aggravate skin inflammation. Eat more vegetables instead.
Can I prevent PUPPP?
Unfortunately, you cannot prevent PUPPP, but you can use the tips mentioned above to manage it when it happens.