If you find yourself experiencing pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) rash, I feel for you! I experienced this unfortunate skin condition. You may feel like you are losing your mind looking for relief, a solution, or a light at the end of the tunnel. I can’t promise you any of those, but I’d like to help others through sharing my experience and the natural remedies I used for relief.
Please note that I am not a medical professional. Consult your doctor with any health concerns.
- nurse’s late-onset prurigo
- Bourne’s toxemic rash of pregnancy
- toxic erythema of pregnancy
- polymorphic eruption of pregnancy
It typically begins developing in the third trimester, more often in a first pregnancy and a pregnancy carrying a boy or multiples. The exact cause is unknown, but it often coincides with stretch marks. The rash will begin on the abdomen as small raised bumps, and it spreads to larger pink/red raised patches.
My experience with PUPPP rash began at the end of third trimester. It started on my stomach, but honestly I thought my stomach was just itchy from getting a few stretch marks (thank you genetics). I also naturally have dry skin. Those things coupled together, I just assumed it was one of the many weird pregnancy phenomenons women experience. Initially it wasn’t that itchy, but I did notice the rash beginning to spread.
My doctor saw my puffy, irritated rash but never seemed concerned. Usually they would see some of the stretch marks and they must be itchy, so I didn’t think too much of it.
Fast forward to labor and delivery. There was still a slight rash on my abdomen at 41 weeks plus one day, and I still figured it was from stretching, dry skin. I ended up having an emergency cesarean, and I received antibiotics for the cesarean (see Emergency C-Section: 20 Tips for Recovery post). Before administering the antibiotics, they did a test strip to make sure there was no allergic reaction. I’m not sure if this is typical or if this was specific to my situation since I do have some allergies to medications. I delivered Q at 5:50 a.m. Later that evening my wrists began to feel itchy…then my arms…then my legs. A raised, splotchy rash was showing up everywhere.
Initially doctors said it was an allergic reaction to the antibiotic. Although they did a test strip, sometimes the body can react differently to a larger dose. They still found it a little baffling since I showed no signs of skin irritation earlier. They said the medicine would pass through my system within a few days and the rash should disappear.
Fast forward a few days, the rash was still there but now worse. It spread nearly everywhere but my face – which is typical with PUPPP rash (thanks for sparing me one thing pregnancy ;). The doctors really did not have a great explanation. I needed to do something for relief. I could barely handle postpartum recovery and healing, let alone a rash that was keeping me up at night tossing, turning, and itching. The doctors prescribed a steroid – prednisone – and it did nothing for me. I frantically began searching for something topical to give me relief from the non-stop itching. The doctors prescribed me a higher strength hydrocortisone. This provided very temporary relief. I clung to even the slightest relief to forget about the itchiness.
After some trial and error, I found a few things that helped me get through those challenging weeks. Yes, weeks. My symptoms did not subside until 15-16 days after delivery. It is typical for the rash to subside within a few weeks, or sometimes up to a month in extreme cases. The weeks may be long, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Try these 8 natural remedies, and comment below with which solutions worked best for you.
As mentioned above, the higher strength hydrocortisone provided me with some relief. I also considered taking benadryl, but that could cause milk supply to decrease for those who are breastfeeding. During this time I also took extra care to not use any harsh soaps, chemicals, or fragrances.
8 natural remedies for PUPPP Rash:
- Pine tar soap – the smell is not the greatest, but it did provide temporary relief
- A cold shower – Hot showers made me itch more, so if you can’t tolerate a cold shower the whole time, turn the temp to cold at the end of your shower to cool down. Sometimes I’d even shower in the middle of the night for relief.
- Minimize sweat – If only we didn’t sweat MORE postpartum. I made sure to wear light clothing and to sleep on cooling sheets.
- Do not itch – This sounds like a tip for chicken pox, but the more I itched the more irritated the rash became. Spots that I itched also took the longest to heal.
- Homemade ointment – this was a concoction Ryan found that worked fairly well for me. 1 part desitin, 1 part vitamin E oil, and 1 part petroleum jelly mixed together. It was very messy, but I didn’t care as long as it helped.
- Oatmeal bath – I was sadly unable to take a bath due to having a cesarean, but had I been able to I would have done this in a heartbeat.
- Dandelion root – I bought capsules to try, but my rash had just started to clear up. Dandelion root is believed to help detox the liver, which is believed to speed up the healing process.
- Peppermint oil – I did not try this, but it was an option I considered. Just be sure to use diluted peppermint oil. Not everyone reacts well to peppermint oil.
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