Understanding Pregnancy Skin Rashes

Sometimes, pregnancy does strange things to the body. Take pregnancy skin rashes, for example.

Argh! That sounds like the beginning of a vicious circle of itching and scratching. And who needs that?

Pregnancy skin rashes come in different forms and they have different names. The commonest one is called PUPPP, which sounds cute, like "puppy", but that's where the similarity ends. This funny-looking word is really an abbreviation for "pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy". Phew! I can't even say that in one breath.

Anyway, some women develop this strangely-named skin rash during pregnancy, usually in the late stages. One thing is for certain: PUPPP can be very itchy. It first appears on the tummy and is more common in first pregnancies and in women who are carrying more than one baby.

No one knows just what causes this skin problem, not even medical experts. Some of them have suggested that it's caused by the skin stretching in late pregnancy and that PUPPP (I can't get the picture of a cute puppy out of my mind) may run in families. But no one really knows why it affects some women and not others.

There's also no specific treatment for this type of pregnancy skin rash. The good thing is it usually clears up within two weeks of having the baby. Sometimes, antihistamines and steroid creams are used to relieve the itching, but like all drugs, they have negative side effects.

If you prefer drug-free solutions, you may want to avoid using steroids when you're pregnant. All drugs can have side effects and no one, not even the drug manufacturers, can tell in advance who will have a bad reaction to a particular drug.

I had a skin rash on my stomach during pregnancy (I don't know if it was PUPPP but it was definitely something) and it was very itchy. But I stopped that big bad itch in its tracks every time with the aloe vera gel that has always worked for me (contact me if you'd like to know more).

Another type of skin rash in pregnancy is prurigo of pregnancy. This is less common than PUPPP, but it's also not completely understood. Again, no one knows what causes this skin problem. Seems like no one seems to know much about these things, not even the so-called experts (who are mostly male, by the way).

It's not all bad, though. Itching aside, both PUPPP and prurigo of pregnancy have no negative effect on the baby.

However, there are other types of pregnancy skin rashes and a few of them have been linked to possible problems with the baby. If you have any kind of rash during pregnancy and you are worried, do see your health care provider.

If you are given any medication, be sure to ask about the possible side effects so that you can weigh the risks against the benefits. Then you can make an informed decision whether to take the medication. You may want to find a non-drug solution, like I did.

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