Itchy Skin when Pregnant

During pregnancy is your skin extremely itchy, burning, with a red lump hive rash?  The rash starts in your stretch marks and then can spread to your breasts, arms and thighs. Thankfully it does not harm baby just makes the Mum-to-be very uncomfortable.

This extreme type of itchiness has the medical term Puritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy, (or PUPPS for short) it’s a rare condition that affects 1% of women.   Although uncommon, the severe itchiness can be hard to cope with. This article explores some of the ways of controlling or reducing the pain associated with PUPPs and hopefully will help women with  the itchy skin better.

Itchiness is a common complaint of pregnancy. Your belly skin has to stretch to accommodate your beautiful growing bump and your skin on your breasts stretches and changes so that they can feed your gorgeous baby once they’re born. Some women report itchiness due to the hormonal changes in their pregnant body or eczema getting worse. This is completely normal. PUPPs is not.

We talked recently to a lady who experienced PUPPs during her first pregnancy: “At first, I thought that I might have shingles or something really scary. But when I went to the doctor they told me that pregnancy rashes were quite common. It was my friend who is an obstetric gynaecologist who diagnosed my skin condition as PUPPs” she said.

A search of the internet painted a sad picture, with most people reporting that they got PUPPs around about week 36 of pregnancy and had it right up until the baby was born. Already the Mum-to-be that we spoke to was experiencing many sleepless nights because of the itchiness. She was working full time and didn’t know how much longer she could cope with her work and lack of sleep combined. “I judged how good a cream was by how many hours it let me sleep before the itchiness woke me again” she said. “A good cream let me sleep two hours straight an ok one, one”. She and her husband felt like they bought everything on the market to treat skin conditions.

After trialing many products she found that keeping her skin at a constant temperature was the best way to control the itching. She wore her feather down jacket day in, day out (even though it was pretty warm in the office she worked in). She also put on an extra layer before getting up to go on the frequent loo trips in the middle of the night, so common at this late stage of pregnancy. She reported that changes in skin temperature made her itchiness heaps worse and the desire to scratch far greater.

Aveeno with menthol cream also ranked highly amongst the treatments…it was one of the creams that ensured two hours of solid sleep.

She reports that she counts herself amazingly blessed to only have to deal with the full on effects of PUPPS for two weeks, and not longer. Keeping her body temperature constant really worked for her.

Our advice: hang in there; babies are so much better on the outside! This is especially true if you’ve got PUPPs.

Written by Debs, Mother of one terrific two year old (he’s not terrible at all!)