For some women, the third term of pregnancy is accompanied not only by the anticipation of the baby’s arrival, but also by a tiny rash that forms along their stretch marks. This rash has the charming name of “pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy,” which is why it’s referred to as PUPPPs.
About 1 in every 150 women are diagnosed with PUPPPs, and this condition usually only happens during a first pregnancy. It’s most likely to develop at about 35 weeks when a woman is more likely to form stretch marks due to a baby’s fast growth. Women who are expecting twins may be more likely to be diagnosed with PUPPPs too, since their skin is even more likely to stretch.
The rash starts around stretch marks as small red bumps that may be mistaken for hives. It can then spread to other parts of the body, with the itchiness making it very uncomfortable throughout the day and night, even disrupting sleep. Some women may even be induced at 39 weeks to stop the itching, since the rash usually disappears about a week after birth.
One interesting fact about PUPPPs: nearly 75% of the women who are diagnosed with this condition give birth to boys.
What’s the Remedy?
Your doctor may recommend a moisturizing cream to stop the itching, but if that doesn’t work, corticosteroid creams and ointments are usually prescribed. You can use home remedies including moisturizing oatmeal baths, pine tar soap, or ice packs to help alleviate some of the itching. Tight shirts or pants can cause discomfort, so loose clothing may give you some relief. If you have PUPPPs in the summer, or live in an area where it’s usually warm, try to stay out of the sun and the pool, since that can make your skin even more uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, the only cure for PUPPPs is giving birth. If you think you’ve developed this skin rash, let your doctor know so he or she can help.