My Battle with PUPPPs (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy) ||
Yeah, I can’t pronounce it either so I just call it PUPPPs (and not the soft and cuddly kind either). First off I just want to say if you are dealing with this BLESS YOUR HEART! I really completely sympathize with you and just know that you are not alone! Feel free to reach out to me in any way you would like if you need to talk or have any questions about PUPPP rash. I am not a doctor but I can at least offer some support.
This crazy, rarely heard of rash during my pregnancy rocked my world so much that I have 3 different drafts of this post! One from a very emotional side, another from the technical side of finding relief and this one where I try to combine a happy medium of the two. As I sit and tweak the 3rd draft I am a little overcome with emotion that 4 months have already flown by since River was born.”Don’t blink!”
It’s said by mothers everywhere, “don’t worry you will forget all about the uncomfortable side effects of pregnancy and the pain of child birth after you hold your sweet baby.” Well, I don’t think I will ever “forget” what I went through with PUPPP rash but it makes it easier when you realize you somehow survived, it made you stronger and you now have this amazing little human!
Most of my pregnancy was a breeze. I did suffer from exhaustion, some nausea and swelling but I really couldn’t say that it wasn’t a pretty pleasant and rewarding experience up until about 32 weeks…then all hell broke loose! I had no idea what was about to take over my body and cause me to have a nervous fucking breakdown just about every day for over a month. It started simple enough. I thought I had a little heat rash below my belly button that caused me a little uncomfortable itching. Then a week later the dreaded stretch marks that I thought I had gotten through my pregnancy without suffering from started popping up right where the “heat rash” was.
Another week goes by and the itching started to intensify so I followed the rules of trying not to scratch and to keep it lubed up with lotion. I was starting the rotation of meeting the other doctors in the practice and I expressed my concerns to the attending doctor I saw that week and she just said, without even looking at the site of irritation, “oh, don’t worry it’s just your stretch marks. They can become itchy.”…well ok…
Fast-forward another week and damn if my entire torso and boobs hadn’t started to itch all over. I mean ITCH! Everywhere I scratched a rash would start to spread. I couldn’t think about anything but controlling the itching and scratching.
It was roughly 35 weeks and I almost had to cancel one of my baby showers because I was so miserable and not to mention terrified to be seen in public because I looked like I was addicted to crack and couldn’t stop scratching the “crack bugs.” But it was a family shower so I figured who loves ya better than family, right?! Plus, after I went back to get the photos from this shower I realized you couldn’t tell! I honestly had barely looked at these because I was so disconnected from what was happening.
As another next week rolled around I was no longer able to sleep for more than 2 hours at a time, spent all day in moo moos, sitting on ice packs and taking cold showers/baths 6-8 times a day just to get about 30 minutes of some sort of relief.
I spent all night from 3 a.m. until my husband would wake up for work soaking in an Aveeno oatmeal bath reading articles of people who had suffered from this debilitating rash and that’s when I started to self-diagnose that I had PUPPP rash. As I shared this with a different doctor at my next visit she almost became frantic and would not discuss the issue with me. She just kept saying, “I am so sorry. Have you tried (insert every itch relief cream known to man).”
– and yes i had tried them all.
It’s such a horrible thing but so little is known about PUPPP and aside from just making you miserable as a mother-fucker it really isn’t “harmful” to you or the baby. From what I could conclude through my own research and no with no help from my doctors is that I was basically allergic to my baby. That’s the only answer I have to help me overcome the PTSD I have suffered from this nasty PUPPP (learn a little more about PUPPP here:
Remedies for PUPPP Rash Relief
So if you have this HORRIBLE PUPPP rash and need a little support here are the little things I did to find a slight bit of relief.
- DO NOT SCRATCH! If you think you have the beginning stages of PUPPP Rash do not start scratching! If I would have known that it was more than “just my stretch marks” I would have never continued to scratch! I think the scratching made it spread. I swore I could never go through pregnancy again if there was even a chance this could come back (and there is) but it does go away (at some point after birth) and I think the second time around I will know what is happening and I will do what I can to prevent it from spreading from the very beginning!
- Grandpa’s Pine Tar Soap : Start showering/bathing with Grandpa’s Pine Tar Soap. Something about this soap does aid in some relief and helps to start to dry it out. It did take a few days to really start to kick in so do not get discouraged if it doesn’t immediately start working. I would use this in a cool shower (heat just upsets the rash more) about 4-6 times a day. Just a warning the soap does have a very “Earthy” sent. It reminded me of a log cabin/campfire smell but I noticed it doesn’t stay on your skin. I did use the loofah to scratch the shit outta myself which I am sure made it worse in the long run but boy did it feel good! I found the soap at our local Sprouts Market and I have linked it above through Amazon but you can find it at just about any pharmacy or grocer.
- Aveeno Oatmeal Bath: Everyone has probably heard of this. I would soak in a lukewarm bath a couple of times a day as well as stated before every night from about 3 am- 6 am. I pretty much would just read and nap as much as I could in that time. Then my day would start all over with a shower about 2 hours later, lay on ice packs, moisturize, shower, moisturize, ice packs, shower…and on it went!
- Coconut Oil: I am now a true believer in using coconut oil as a moisturizer. I actually haven’t bought any other type of lotion since I started using coconut oil while having the rash. What it has done for my skin even after the rash is amazing. I believe the best type for using as a moisturizer is the unrefined kind, any brand will work I am sure. I had my mom and husband rubbing me down all day and night the last few weeks!
- Ice Packs (and lots of them): Keeping ice packs on your body really helped relieve the itching a lot. I think at any given time I would have one behind my back, under my ass, and on my legs and arms. In fact, any sleep I got at the beginning of the night would be while my ice packs were still frozen then as soon as they thawed around 2-3am I would start to itch uncontrollably again (itching became worse at night. Something to do with your hormones) and would retire to the bathtub.
- Claritin D: I did try Benadryl orally but it didn’t really do anything for me. I typically do not take Claritin because it makes me feel a little loopy but my mom had some when she came to help me after my rash got so bad I could barely make it through the day. I gave it a try and it did help relieve some of the itching and relax me a little to get some rest.
You are probably surprised that I did not list any anti-itch creams. You are more than welcome to give any of them a shot but they just DID NOT work for me. I mean at all! They were just a waste of money and left weird residue on your body. There are SO many other things to try this was just my personal experience. I pray that you have more support from your healthcare professionals. When I finally made it back to my primary doctor she saw the pain in my eyes by the tears that were streaming down my face at my 36 week appointment. I was begging for her to help me because I felt like the stress from the rash would be putting stress on River. She wound up having me do a urine analysis for protein which was positive so at 37 1/2 weeks we induced labor for preeclampsia.
I didn’t get the experience of “going in to labor” like I was hoping for but as I am sure you have heard most births do not go as planned! The news I was being induced was SO welcomed. I finally fixed my hair a little and put something on besides a moo moo. Given it was only sweats but I did get a few little pictures the day before we went in to the hospital. I didn’t realize I had my camera on a weird setting but to be honest the color kind of reflects how I was feeling.
So in conclusion PUPPP Rash SUCKS A BIG ASS! I was so miserable I became very disconnected from my pregnancy. I didn’t even want to nest. River’s room just sat there with everything from the baby showers still in boxes. My amazing Mom came to my rescue though! She and my husband were my angels through this process. After River was born I still itched for about 2-3 weeks but it was no where near as bad as it was. I hope this helps at least one person find a little relief or feel supported. If you have also suffered from PUPPP Rash please feel free to leave any of your personal remedies in the comments!
Good luck, Mama! It will all be worth it once you are holding your little squishy!