Updated: Dec 7, 2020
There is a chance that if you are reading this, it is because you are wondering if you have PUPPPs. And mama, can I just tell you, I am SO sorry.
I will start by saying that being pregnant, for me, from start to finish, was not easy. Nor was it my favorite thing ever. Some moms glow and blossom and poop rainbows when they’re pregnant. I am not that mom.
I thought being pregnant, all-in-all, was pretty terrible (outside of the fact that at the end I would get the best thing to ever happen to me in the history of all of ever). And then I developed PUPPPs rash and it took that whole blissful pregnancy thing I had going on (lol) to a WHOLE new level of wonderful.
Simply put, PUPPPs (real name: pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, but who has the time or diaphragm capacity to say all that, really?) is an incredibly itchy, incredibly miserable rash that can develop during pregnancy, usually sometime in the third trimester.
For me, it started on my stomach within my stretch marks around the end of my 35th week. Because, ya know, that wasn’t uncomfortable enough as is, so let’s just throw a rash on it.
I mentioned my stretch marks being itchy to my doctor at my 36-week appointment, but there was no visible sign of a rash yet so we both assumed it was just from the skin stretching. The third trimester is when baby is in their “bulk” phase, so it’s not outside the realm of possibilities that having your skin stretch that much and that quickly could cause a little itch here and there.
A few days after my appointment, it took a turn for the worse and my stomach was fully inflamed with good ol’ PUPPPs. It looked like I had been mauled by tiger because my stretch marks were SO irritated.
Once confirmed, my doctor recommended a couple of things to ease the itch, so I immediately began doing them. *ALWAYS talk to YOUR doctor before doing anything.*
I tried to use as little of the recommended anti-itch creams as I possibly could because I didn’t like the idea of anything getting into my bloodstream and to my baby.
This worked, for all of like…. Um, a minute.
Seemingly overnight, the rash had spread everywhere. And y’all when I say everywhere, I mean EVERYwhere. The only part of me that came out unscathed was my face.
I wasn’t sleeping (but who really is when you’re THAT pregnant- if you did, I need ALL your secrets) because I was either scratching myself or mentally trying to keep myself from scratching. I began searching for answers online, much like you might be right now.
So, I will let you in on my little pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy secrets. Whoa, how’s that for a mouthful? Here is what I did from week 36-38, which seemed to give me an hour or so of relief at a time:
I bought Grandpa’s Pine Tar Soap. It smells exactly like if you bottle a campfire and made soap out of the smell. You get used to it, whether you want to or not.
I bought Aveeno soothing bath treatment.
I bought Dr. Teals Epsom salt (in the coconut oil scent because it just smells real yum).
When I was still working, I took two showers a day using the Pine Tar Soap and one bath at night soaking in the Aveeno bath treatment and the Dr. Teals Epsom salt (also using the pine tar soap again while in there). I would apply anti-itch cream as I woke up and absolutely needed it.
When I kicked off my maternity leave, I went to showering 3-4 times a day, with a long bath at night.
I was so miserable and was getting zero sleep, so I finally called and begged my doctor for something more. She prescribed me a steroid cream to use no more than twice a day. I wanted to soak my entire body in it, but the cream was so strong and thus, overuse could pose a problem to my little growing baby bean, so I reeled it in.
I refused to drink caffeine, take Tylenol, use deodorant with aluminum in it… I basically voted anything off my island that wasn’t some all-natural hippie shit. So, the fact that I BEGGED my doctor (like legitimately cried to her on the phone) for the steroid cream should tell you just how miserable this rash can be. If your S.O. has it, do whatever that precious, majestic, baby-growing human needs you to, because I promise you, she is not being dramatic.
Fun fact: did you know that the only way for the rash to completely disappear and leave your poor body alone is to give birth? Obviously, you never want the baby to come too early. But man, once I hit the point where I was using the steroid cream, I was doing everything I could to will my daughter out of my stomach.
My doctor, my husband and I made the decision together to induce after my doc saw just how much the rash had spread (and only once I hit 39 weeks). At 39 +1 weeks, my sweet, perfect daughter was born. And wouldn’t you know, by the time I was wheeled into my permanent room, the rash was completely gone.
Now, this is just my experience. Chances are yours will be totally different. Hopefully so different that you don’t get PUPPPs at all. But if you do end up with it, please chat with your doctor about their recommendations. They know you, your body and your baby the best and should be your first resource. After you talk to your doctor though, come talk to me and I will do my best to help you from scratching the first layer of your skin off. I’m a master distracter.
And four the love, if no one has told you today: PUPPPs rash or not, you’re doing great, mama.