Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pregnancy Rash: PUPPPS

When I was 36-37 weeks pregnant with my first son, I started having a lot of itching under my belly button. With all the stretching my belly had done, I figured itching was pretty normal. However, every day the itching got worse.

After a week, the itching was no longer isolated to my belly, but on the back of my thighs, up the behind really really bad, and up my entire back! My entire backside went from a red rash to being covered in what looked like welts! The itching from the rash was worse than Chicken Pox or anything else I had ever experienced. It was miserable trying to sleep (along with the normal discomforts of pregnancy), and it was especially bad when I would get hot or sweaty. It was in the 100's the week before I had my son, so you can imagine how uncomfortable I was!

The picture below shows part of the rash on my back. The picture doesn't do the rash justice.
*The right side of this photo was cropped off to fit another photo next to it in my scrapbook.

When I went into see the doctor, he told me the itchy rash was caused by pregnancy. He gave me a cream to try and said once my baby was born, the rash would go away. Over the next week, my rash continued to get worse and spread more. Nothing I tried would help with the itching. It just continued to spread more and more.

By the time I hit 38 1/2 weeks, my doctor suggested an induction. Knowing that my baby was large (he had been 5lbs at 32 weeks) and feeling like I was going to loose it from all the itching, I decided to go along with the induction. I was so excited to meet my baby and was happy that there would be relief in sight.
I was induced at 39 1/2 weeks. Lying in bed during labor, sweating like crazy with that rash across my entire backside drove me nuts. It was awful. Sweat and itchy rashes are not a good combination!

Sure enough, after my baby was born the rash started to go away. After a week, the rash was completely gone.

What was this pregnancy rash that I had? I believe it was Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy, or PUPPPS. From what I've read, it's not very common- only 1% of pregnant women end up with PUPPPS. PUPPPS occurs more often with women who are expecting a boy and is more common with first pregnancies and pregnancies of multiples.

I was scared I would end up with the rash when I pregnant with my 2nd. son a year later, but I never had more than regular itching. I never had the PUPPPS come back with the pregnancies of my daughters either.

Have you or anyone you know ever experienced PUPPPS? If so, were you expecting a boy? What did you do to soothe the itching?


  1. Morgan, I had PUPPPS with my first pregnancy as well, also a boy. I had mine so bad it was under my fingernails, on my face and inbetween my toes! NOTHING I tried helped at all, except for ice cold showers. I was off of work due to other complications, so I took up to 7 or 8 icy cold showers a day and then air dried because rubbing a towel across my body! I had it beginning around 33 weeks, and had my son at 36w5d due to pre-eclampsia. That was the worst nearly 4 weeks of my life.

  2. I had PUPPS with my first as well but she's a girl. :P Its sorta a neat story. It started on my thighs and was these huge welts all over that itched horribly. And we had NO AC in our house so I know what you mean about sweat and PUPPS.. My Husband one night prayed over me and the next morning it was GONE! That was really really cool. :)

  3. Poor you! I can't even imagine the horror and discomfort. It's already so uncomfortable to be in the end stages of pregnancy. So sorry!

  4. Ack! I'm ready to scratch just looking at that painful picture...glad your other pregnancies went smoother!

  5. oh morgan, some of the most miserable mommas Ive met were pupps mommas. glad that it never recurred!

  6. Oh my gosh. You were brave to risk it coming back. I have never heard of that!

  7. No fun. I have a friend who had PUPPPS with her 2nd pregnancy, which was with a boy. I didn't know it was more common with boys. That's interesting!

  8. One theory is that it has something to do with fetal DNA in the mother's skin.

    That's too bad that your friend has that with her pregnancy.

  9. It looks so dreadfully irritating....I feel so bad for what you must have gone through!! I've heard of it, though I never experienced it.

  10. I had PUPPPS with my first pregnancy and second! I remember sleeping with ice packs under me and on top of me. I tried every cream, pill, etc. offered. I have scars on my body from the sores. My first pregnancy was a boy. The second pregnancy was twins (boy & girl). I got PUPPPS around the 38th week with my son. The worse part of it lasted for 6 months. I had chronic hives for 9 more months after the PUPPPS went away. I got PUPPPS again in the first trimester of my next pregnancy. It lasted the entire pregnancy. I was sooooo miserable. I was a case study at the local medical school after my son was born. The doctor said it would go away as soon as my hormones returned to normal. I finally got relief with my first case when I stopped nursing and got back on the pill. I wasn't able to get relief w/ the twins until I delivered. I chose not to nurse so that the hormones would return to normal sooner. It worked b/c the rash went a way within a couple of weeks after delievering them. Needless to say--no more pregnancies for me!!! My sympathies to all of you that have gone through it or currently are enduring it.

  11. I had it with my 1st preg.. It was a girl got it about 6 month and lasted about 3 months after i had her .. I was induced a day after my due date. i did not breast feed in hopes it would go away sooner. The only relief i got at all was cold showers with grandpas pine tar soap. Long enough for me to fall asleep at night. that was the ONLY thing to help at all. They dont rle do any research about the rash due to it causing no harm other than from people scratching and the itching ... But i was so miserable.But hopefully next time wont get it ... Its rare to get it again but it does happen .. Good luck to all u ladies who are going through this.

  12. I had a severe case of PUPPs in my first pregnancy, and started to get it again at 31 weeks, but I got rid of it this time, thank heavens! Here is what worked for me:
    1. Do NOT scratch it, under any circumstances. This makes it 10 times worse. Do whatever you can to keep yourelf from scratching.
    2. Cold - ice packs, cold showers, swimming, whatever you can do to cool it down. I think this helped the most.
    3. My doctor prescribed a steroid cream called Clobetasol Propionate. It was already starting to go away from the cold packs, but this finished it off within a couple of days.

    I also switched to a very mild oatmeal body wash instead of my usual soap, but I don't know how much effect this had.
    Good luck!

  13. Interesting. I wonder if the scratching causes it to spread???

  14. I have Puppps and I am pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl. I started to get these welt like things on me when I was 4 months pregnant and I was told by the OB that it wasn't puppps because it wasn't on my abdomen. It did however, itch like hell .. My husband went out at 1am and bought me cortizone cream, anti itch spray and nothing worked. I wanted to jump off a bridge. I now do have puppps and it is on my abdomen and legs. I use grandpas Pine Tar Soap and also Benadryl anti itch spray. It works wonders. I have no AC and the past two weeks have been horrid because of the humidity and hot weather. My twins are being born via c-section Sept. 17th and I cannot wait for the day to get here so that the itching will stop. Good luck to all of you experiencing this!!! I think it feels like bee's stinging all over when I get sweaty..

  15. wow! I thought my rashes were bad but yours look worst. This is the worst feeling ever. I have PUPPS and have been miserable for the past 5 days. Not only has it been 100 degrees in Los Angeles but the air conditioner at work is broken. This has made my itching even worst. My doctor did not prescribe me any steroid creams but I'm desperate and considering using one. I don't want to harm my baby. Has anyone used steroid creams for PUPPS treatment?

  16. I did Karina, but it really didn't help at all. It was miserable. I'm so sorry you're experiencing PUPPS!

    3 things I suggest-

    1. Consider trying the Grandpa's Pine Tar stuff people recommended above.

    2. Cold baths. Ice. Maybe even some Benadryl if your doctor says it's okay.

    3. Get in with a dermatologist ASAP! I wish I had sought one out, but didn't even think about it. It seems to me that they would be more knowledgeable about skin rashes like this than an O.B.

    I hope you get some relief soon!

  17. I had PUPPPS as well during my pregnancy. I remember it being absolutly HORRIBLE... and like you I tried EVERYTHING to get the itching to stop with no avail! I wouldnt wish this on my worst enemy... I also had a boy. The rash got so bad that I started to swell very badly and at 34 weeks I was induced. With he help of some steriods my son weighed 6lbs 7oz at birth and is a healthy growing little boy!

  18. Im surprised and relieved to see this PUPPPS Im 6 months and it started when I was 5 months and its making me nuts Im hoping this doesnt last my next trimester I need help other than showers what can I do?

  19. Sam-
    Has your doctor suggested any methods of relief?

    I highly suggest you visit with a dermatologist and have them evaluate your rash. It may be that there isn't much they can do, but it's worth a try.

    It also seems worth it to try out the Grandpa Pine Bar soap everyone has recommended. If I had the PUPPPS rash ever again, I think I'd be ordering some of that!

    If you find anything that helps relieve the itching, please do come back and share!!!

  20. Ladies! I believe I found a cure and am keen to share it. I developed this very itchy rash in my second trimester and when i read all the horror stories on blogs i freaked. But a week after using cream on it, my rash disappeared, and has not returned (touch wood!). So what was the cream? Canestan. Yup, the very same stuff that treats thrush. You see, my beautician noticed my rash and said "that looks fungal". She has never been wrong before, so I decided to take her at her word, and treat it as a fungal infection. Conincidentally, I had just suffered a bout of thrush. I wonder if the two are related? Has anyone else had a similar experience? All I can say is . . .if nothing else is working, DO try a topical thrush medcation like Canestan. Good luck!

  21. hi, I developed PUPPPS at about 32 weeks with my first son. it drove me nuts for 4 weeks before i could be induced i had it on every inch of my body except my head and its the worst experience of my life! the dermatology department of the hospital said it was the worst case they've ever seen. i was told it would go away within a week of having him which is why i agreed to the induction, however my PUPPPS took 5 months to go and i'm still left with some residue itching on my legs when they get dry. there's not much you can do to help it except stay cool and i used this special menthol cream that the hospital gave me. i'm now 30 weeks pregnant with my second one and prayiing that it doesn't come back

  22. I think thats what i have now. I am carrying a girl. I went to the ER and the doctor said i had an allergic reaction to the laundry detergent i was using, but i had already used that detergent before. After seeing pictures of PUPPP i figured thats what my rash was and it is horrible. I itch all day everyday and it gets worse when i shower. I hope it does go away soon.

  23. My daughter has it now.


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