Pregnancy Related Itching & Rashes
Archived Q&A and Reviews
- Homeopathy for pregnancy rash?
- Itching making me crazy - PUPPP?
- 7 months pregnant - itchy rashes
- Welts and itching since giving birth
- Post-partum itchy rash
- See also: Cholestasis
- More Advice about Itching & Scratching
hi, i am about 7 1/2 months pregnant and have an itchy, painful rash that started around 4 months. i've seen my OB, my regular doctor, and a dermatologist and no one knows exactly what it is or what to do about it except give me topical steroid creams which don't seem to do anything. i've done lots of research on rashes during pregnancy (including reading the website) and know (from my doctor) that it's not PUPPS or the itchiness that means something's wrong w/your liver. i am now thinking of seeing a homeopathic doctor, Dr. Kreisberg. so i'm interested in both advice and recommendations: has anyone who had one of these awful rashes during pregnancy tried homeopathy (or anything else for that matter)? has anyone seen Dr. Kreisberg for anything and have you liked him? i'm new to homeopathy as well, so any advice is welcome. thanks. pregnant and itchy
I don't have experience with homeopathy for pregnancy rashes, but I did have an incredibly severe case of PUPPs at the end of my pregnancy (I looked like I had rolled in poison oak and had big itchy wlets everywhere). I tried every over-the-counter anti- itch product I could find (coritzone, anti-fungal, creams, lotions, ointments...) The only ones that had even slightly beneficial effects were Beneryl and Calamine lotion (the old- fashioned pink kind, not the Caladryl). The other thing that offered some relief was covering myself with REALLY COLD compresses (wash cloths frequently re-chilled in ice water). Though everybody claimed it goes away with delivery, mine reached its height the day after. It was TRULY UNBEARABLE. My doctor prescribed an oral steroid--Prednizone(they said it was o.k. while nursing, I don't know about pre-natally) which was both a blessing and a curse. It did clear up the rash, however, it had SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS that I was not warned about and didn't recognize were connected to the drug until too late. The tricky thing about Prednizone is that different people have different reactions to it --running the gammut from no side- effects to completely opposite ones (i.e. either increased appetite or lack of appetite, insomnia or lethargy...)
The Prednizone made me completely unable to sleep. I was literally awake for 5 days; despite being exhausted from giving birth and doing tons of relaxing things (including getting wonderful massages), I could not fall asleep when I lay down. I also had no appetite and felt slightly naseaus. The combo of no sleep and no food meant my milk never fully came in--despite all the extensive measures I took (with the aid of a lactation consultant), even when it did finally come in, it never was enough. An additional side-effect, is that Prednizone can impede the body's ability to heal. In my case, it meant my epesiotomy stitches were rejected, and just fell out.
So, if you do opt for a steroid, I recommend you be informed about potential side-effects and be mindful of your own reaction to the drugs in deciding whether to continue them. Good luck! Julie
Homeopathy is wonderful for many things, including rashes, including getting healthy while pregnant, but it is in an entirely different league than buying a cream. It is powerful, gentle, deep, lasting, and safe, but it does involve a committment to refrain from coffee (all kinds)and other things. It can effect you on the mental, emotional, and physical levels. Healing from the inside out. The in-depth initial interview takes at least an hour, maybe two. There is a wonderful homeopath named Christine Ciavarella, P.A. , at the Hahnemann Medical Clinic close to the Albany-El Cerrito border. Her number is 524 - 3117. She is really great with kids, too. (make diaper rash/ear infections go away for good. . .no side effects) Good luck whatever you decide. brichman
Itching and Rashes During Pregnancy- The Secret of Dry Mint Leaves! My itchy rash started around the 18th week in my decolte (below the neck and upon the bust, between shoulders). My dermatologist said it was the effect of direct sunlight on skin, which becomes more sensitive during pregnancy. I used Dermatop by Aventis. It helped. Then, over one night in the 20th week the rash was all over my body, except my face and soles; including my thighs, underarms and bikini area. It was itching tremendously from within- like after a sunburn. I visited another dermatologist and started using the old fashioned Calamine Lotion (pink), BasisCreme by GlaxoSmithKline, Calcium C effervecent tablets with vitamin C and Zyrtec. They helped to soothe the rash but after a while my skin became very dry, full of scrathes and the ''itching crises'' was continuous. I used to wake up (if I could sleep!) in the middle of the night and take a shower... I came to 23rd week. Then this MIRACLE, SIMPLE solution was offered by a friend's doctor: 1- Take a warm shower. 2- Clean your bath tub and fill it half with hot water. 3- Add one cup of (or more if you want to) dry mint leaves. Let it brew. 4- Add cold water to make the water warm and safe for the baby. 5- Stay in the mint-leaves-all-over-bath tub for 20-30 minutes. 6- Before getting out and taking a shower, rub your body with the mint leaves with the help of a sponge - especially itchy areas!- This helps you for about 4-6 hours. You might itch -just like a few mosquito bites here and there- but not all over! Repeat it as much as you need to. I do it in the morning before going to work and at night before going to bed. I continue to use only BasisCreme after the shower. I take Calcium C tablets regularly. If for some reason there is ''crisis'' at some point, hot water over the itchy areas help also- avoiding the abdomen and the baby. I hope it works for you, it worked for me!! Meanwhile, I avoid direct sun- makes it go crazy. Stay in airconditioned areas. Avoid ''allergy known'' food such as tomatoes, orange, peaches and whatever your are suspuicious of! Deniz
Please go see your doctor promptly and get a professional diagnosis. Your symptoms sound very similar to my sister-in-law's, who was diagnosed as having a liver problem. This condition typically begins in late pregnancy, with itching on the arms and legs. Sometimes itching develops all over the body. This liver problem occurs when the mother's liver is unable to keep up with processing the extra load on it due to pregnancy, resulting in a build-up of bile salts in her body, and this causes the itching. This condition can sometimes be very harmful to the baby, and if this IS the cause of your itching and rash, you need to get your liver function monitored regularly (via blood tests). However, I don't want to scare you unduly in my sister-in-law's case, the doctor scheduled regular blood tests and fetal non-stress tests (these are completely non-invasive) to monitor her condition, and she recently delivered a beautiful strong healthy baby at full term. Good luck! Kathy
I had an unusually severe case of PUPPP at the end of my first pregnancy, and what a nightmare it was. I didn't get it until I was 36 weeks along, and they finally induced my labor at 38.5 weeks because of it. In hindsight, the only thing that was really effective was oral steroids. Some of the other things I did included 1) an ammonia and baking soda paste applied to the most recent itchy patch, and 2) applied aloe vera gel after a shower and then put on snug fitting cotton clothes and gloves.
Whatever you do, don't take Benadryl. It quieted the itching enough to go to sleep, but then I would wake up about an hour or so later sweating and itching much worse than when I went to sleep.
I would confirm your self-diagnosis soon, and you might want to see a dermatologist that has some experience with PUPPP. My case went from unpleasant to completely unbearable over the course of several days. I wish I had gotten more aggressive steroid treatment, and had it sooner. I think I would have been more able to hang on and not be induced. The condition usually resolves after delivery, but it still took 6 weeks for my rash to go away completely, so it really wasn't worth it. The other key part is that if you do choose an induction, be clear about what your pain relief options are - they refused to give me an epidural because of the PUPPP. And an unmedicated induced labor after weeks of rash-induced exhaustion is not pretty.
I don't mean to scare you, just encourage you to take this pretty seriously and consult with professionals you trust. Most cases aren't that bad, so with good care you probably won't have such a bad time. Good luck, and if you have any questions please email me. Suz
I too had PUPPP for a month before and about 6-7 weeks after the birth of my first child. I am now also 27 weeks along on the second but it hasn't yet surfaced. Last time it started on my belly but right after birth spread everywhere -- all down my legs and arms and trunk. I was miserable!!!! I found that cold showers and baths helped the most. And when I couldn't do that I just blotted the itchiest spots with very cold wash clothes. I also used topical ointments but I don't remember them helping much. Of course the best thing you can do is not itch -- the itchiness just feeds on itself. Good luck -- I hope you can find some relief soon! Mary
I developed PUPP around the 20th week of pregnancy. It started out on my stomach and gradually crept up to my breasts, arms and right under the neck. I was so miserable. I scratched, and had scabs all over. I had to wear long sleeves because my arms looked so horrible. My ob/gyn said that I had eczema. It wasn't until I searched the Web that I discovered I had PUPP. My girlfriend's friend had PUPP and the doctor prescribed Claritin and hydrocortisone. I went back to my OB/GYN and told him what I had and told him about my friend's friend. He then prescribed hydrocortisone and Claritin. It made an intolerable situation tolerable. The itching on my arms stopped but my stomach was still very itchy. Good Luck!
A friend of mine had the same symptoms you describe for her first child - just at the end of the pregnancy. She took medication which never really helped. When she was only a few months into her second pregnancy, she started itch again and was afraid that she'd be miserable for a long time. However, she went to see a skin specialist, Dr. Jailing Yu in SF (who by the way has helped my one-year old daughter with what the pediatricians call eczema in the most amazing way). Dr. Yu is truly a life saver!!! She is a skin specialist, herbalist, accupuncturist. She treated my friend through dietary restrictions and herbal creams and as soon as my friend stopped eating certain foods (tomatoes were a big culprit) her skin itching and the rashes cleared up. Hard to believe, but it's true. Try diet. It can't hurt and requires no medications! My daughter's skin is beautiful now too and it only took less than two days of a modified diet and Dr. Yu's creams. Good luck! AW
I have had experience of this - at about thirty weeks my whole stomach became unbearably itchy, covered with a red inflamed rash. My doctor prescribed steroid cream. I went home, threw the prescription away - I was not prepared to apply steroids during pregnancy.
I then applied natural live yoghurt all over the rash. It went! I tried yoghurt on the basis that it works for thrush - and I was immensely relieved that it worked for this rash. I never found out what caused it. Good luck! Janice
I developed a rash while pregnant at about 32 weeks (I think... its hard to remember now with a 19 month old). My rash started between my toes. At first I thought it was Athlete's foot. I spent about a month using Tinactin and Micotin and any other OTC cream. The only thing that seemed to help was keeping my feet in a bucket of ice water. The first Ob Nurse told me to use topical cortizone along with the anti fungal cream, but that didn't do anything. I was spending what seemed like hours washing and medicating, and scratching my feet. By then I was about 38 weeks and started seeing the Ob department more frequently and ended up seeing a new NP she said that I had a pregnancy related rash, but she had no idea which one/kind, that there are many different ones. She gave me a prescription for a topical corticosteroid which came with the standard CYA instructions that it was not supposed to be used by pregnant women. And it did help with the itching, somewhat. She told me that probably by the time a dermatologist figured it out I would give birth and the rash would go away. In fact I did give birth that week, and the rash was gone by the time I woke up after my c-section. Since you still have a while to go I would definitely recommend that you see a dermatologist, maybe they can figure out what it is.
I had PUPP off and on during my pregnancy and it nearly drove me crazy, so I can sympathize completely. Nobody else I talked to had experienced it, but when I showed the itchy bumps to my OB-GYN he diagnosed as PUPP and told me it was fairly common. He said I could take OTC Benadryl (Diphenhydramine HCl) to relieve the symptoms which I did and I sometimes used the topical cream on the itchy spots when I couldn't afford to be sleepy. They both helped a lot. Kitrena
I KNOW what you're going through. I had two babies back-to-back (August 19, 1998 and August 17, 1999) and with both pregnancies, I began to have an itchy rash all over my body at about 26 - 28 weeks along. The first time it happened, my doctor said he thought it was what they call, Pregnancy Rash and can be anywhere from mild to severe. He said if it became so severe that I could no longer cope, they could induce me at 36 weeks and take the baby. I really didn't want to do that (since I personally feel that when the baby is ready, THEN it's time) so I just endured to the end. And immediately when I delivered, just as the Doctor told me, the rash went away.
Then, one year later, at about the exact same time in my pregnancy I got it again, but this time it was only on my stomach. Since I had just been through it 12 months prior, I figured it was Pregnancy Rash again, but just localized on my stomach and I didn't worry about it. It got so bad toward the end of my second pregnancy, however, that I would barely 'scratch' my stomach (actually it was more like a rub because I was trying to not be too harsh) and little dots of blood would appear on my stomach. I would try SOOOO hard not to touch it, but I literally couldn't stand it -- it was such an uncontrollable itch. Finally, in my 8th month, I mentioned it to my N.P. just to see if there was any Prescription strength medicine for extreme Pregnancy Rash and she was flabbergasted that I had gone this long without mentioning it at all. I told her the reason I didn't mention it was I just figured it was part of pregnancy and pregnancy rash. To make a long story short, she had me go to the lab for some blood tests and it came back that I had Pregnancy Elevated Bile Salts (EBS). I began searching on the internet, medical journals, etc. and I have found that basically it means that my liver wasn't able to keep up with cleaning out my blood and the baby's at the same time (in my case it was probably due to the fact that I had JUST had a baby a few months ago and my body hadn't had a chance to get back to normal, but there are other reasons why a pregnant woman might have EBS). Anyway, this problem causes an increased risk in preterm labor, hemorraghing during delivery (I think?) and one more thing that I can't remember. (Sorry my facts aren't all correct -- it's been about two years now). In any case, they wanted to test the baby every few days until delivery to make sure he was fine. Everything was fine by the way, but I'm glad I mentioned it to my N.P. Because if everything had NOT been fine, it would have been better for the doctor to know ahead of time so he could have been prepared for any emergency circumstance that might arise.
My suggestion to you is, PLEASE tell your Doctor or N.P. as soon as possible so that they can rule out any signs of trouble. Especially since you mentioned that this got bad during your 7th month. That's actually one of the main signs of EBS -- uncontrollable itching like crazy that begins in your 3rd trimester. April
Heather, so sorry to hear about your itching. I had a terrible pregnancy rash in my 7th or 8th month. The only pregnancy rash I know about is called PUPP and unfortunately I can't remember what the acronym stands for. Apparently it isn't uncommon and usually starts on the abdomen around your stretch marks and then can spread up your torso and to you legs. I feel for you - I remember being miserable for at least 2 weeks. My OB referred me to a dermatologist who had to look it up in a text book to diagnose me. He gave me a topical cortisone cream prescription which did work some. At that point the rash started getting better and then gradually went away. If it had persisted (I hear that sometimes it persists until you give birth) he would have given me a cortisone shot. Good Luck. Kristina
Pregnancy does strange things to our bodies. That said, what you're describing sounds to me like a food allergy. I spontaneously developed an allergy to yeast in my mid-twenties. I wasn't pregnant, and there was no discernable cause or warning signals. Suddenly I started breaking out in rashes. After seeing many specialists, including a dermatologist who said it was probably stress, I went on a whim to see an allergist, and lo and behold, it was the yeast. I still eat bread, etc., but control it with acidopholus. A food allergy, or pregnancy-induced sensitivity, might be your problem. It's worth investigating. Melissa
I had the same problem when I was seven months pregnant with my second child. I developed a rash that spread all over my body. I couldn't sleep, as I was up all night scratching myself raw. I was miserable. After an unsuccessful round of steroids, I was put on antehestimines and was given a topical cream by a dermatologist. The rash finally went away, although I had to take the medication for the duration of my pregnancy.
There is a pregnancy related rash called PUPP (I can't remember what it stands for). PUPP can be very serious, is extremely uncomfortable and lasts until delivery. It doesn't sound like you have it as PUPP usually starts on the stomach and is also more typical in women who gain an extraordinary amount of weight, are pregnant for the first time and are having boys. For more information, you may want to go to AskJeeves.com
I tried many over the counter remedies. What worked best was Benadryl Gel. I would recommend talking to your OB and maybe a dermatologist. Feel free to contact me if you want more information. I spent many sleepless nights getting information on the Internet! Jenny
My sister had a skin condition called PUPs, or puerperal urticaria of pregnancy. She almost went crazy itching, I think she ended up taking low doses of steroids during pregnancy (baby was perfectly fine) and then it got better after she delivered. Her OB dismissed her complaints it as something one puts up with; it took a dermatologist to diagnose it. Perhaps that isn't what you have (hope not) but you might ask to see a dermatologist asap. Hope you are feeling better, and goodluck. Mandala
I, too, itched like crazy during my pregnancy, particularly from months 7 and later, when I was really huge. My hands and my belly were extremely sensitive. I figured it was a normal thing, given that maternity stores sold creams particularly for the itching. But I'm glad you mentioned the allergies, because I had major nasal congestion almost from the moment of conception. I had been prone to hay fever, anyway, but my sinuses just froze up. I mentioned it to my OB/Gyn, and he said he knew of women who had some pregnancy-related congestion in the later months of pregnancy but wasn't aware of anything close to what I was experiencing that early. Still, right after my son was born, poof! No more congestion, not even what I had had pre-pregnancy. So, I wouldn't be surprised if pregnancy exacerbates allergies. I'd be interested in knowing if other women experienced this. As for the itching, I rubbed a ton of lotion on the itchy areas. Because of your reaction to lotions, you might consider Benadryl or other antihistamines (after checking with your doctor, of course). Gwynne
While pregnant, my sister had itching that she said was unbearable. She went to a dermatologist, who diagnosed something that sounds like the name herpes gestationis which is actually not related to herpes but an auto-immune reaction to pregnancy. She had blistery manifestation on her legs and torso. It's characterized by not affecting face and hands. This particular problem is quite rare, but there are a number of similar skin problems in pregnancy. Some can be treated topically, but in her case, she required Prednizone. Stefanie
I had HORRIBLE itching fits when I was pregnant and they got worse in the 3rd trimester. It only occured on my back though. The only thing that helped was Gold Bond medicated cream. The powder helped a bit also. During these fits, my husband would rub my back with Gold Bond which helped immediately. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I discovered that hot showers before the rub down worked wery well also. I guess the heat opened my pores. In any event, the good news is that after the baby, the problem disappeared. MW
the good news is that two months from now it will go away COMPLETELY! I had scars from scratching in my sleep. Made it worse by taking desperately hot showers instead of cool baths... There's a name for it, which I've forgotten. The cure is delivery but there may be ways to ease the itching. Heather
I'm not sure if this is what your experiencing, but I found this information on naturalchildbirth.org:
Obstetric Cholestasis, otherwise known as Intraheptic Cholestasis of pregnancy, (or OC for short) is a liver disease. It's not really known why it manifests itself during pregnancy, although there is believed to be some sort of genetic link. (One of the ladies who has written into the SANDS (WA) site had heard that it was commoner among Chileans, being half-Chilean herself, and had also had a close relation who had possibly suffered from it). If you have it with one pregnancy there seems to be a good chance that you will get it again.
The symptoms are general itching with no obvious rash, usually starting in the 3rd trimester. This is not to be confused with the common itching of the abdominal skin as it stretches during the pregnancy. This itching is usually on the arms, legs, hands and soles of the feet, which are not areas that usually itch during pregnancy. The itching associated with OC is often so severe as to cause the victim to scratch until they bleed. It is usually worse at night, often leading to completely sleepless nights. Other symptoms may include dark urine, pale stools and stomach pain. (Although I have read elsewhere that stomach pain is not a factor - that's the trouble with researching these things, you read one thing in one place and the complete opposite elsewhere). A small percentage of victims may be jaundiced but this is not a common indicator of the condition. (This has often caused it to be missed - doctors look for jaundice, and if the woman isn't jaundiced they tell her to go home because she would be jaundiced if she had a liver problem. I don't think this attitude is as common these days).
OC can be detected by a blood test. Your doctor will take blood for liver function tests (LFTs) and a serum bile acid test to find out how your liver is functioning. Liver function and serum bile acid tests are important to confirm a diagnosis of obstetric cholestasis. Liver function tests measure the activity of enzymes which are released into the bloodstream from damaged liver cells. Often these are raised in OC but not always. (LFTs are also used to diagnose other complications of pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia. There are numerous enzymes produced by the liver, all of which have specific functions).
Hope this helps, Tunisha
There are some pregnancy-related liver conditions that can result in itching-- they usually go away soon after childbirth, but it is definitely something you should tell your doctor about. I know of one woman whose midwife decided not to allow a homebirth because she was concerned about very, very remotely possible liver complications. Talk to your doctor or midwife about it...Sorry I can't give advice on how to reduce your discomfort. EB
I also experienced itchy red rashes all throughout my pregnancy. After consulting with a dermatologist and having a biopsy done, they came up with pregnancy related rash as a diagnosis. They call it PUPPP or something like that, and gave me some hydrocortisone cream that gave me some relief. Unfortunately, there wasn't much else they could do to help. A friend of mine had a similar pregnancy related rash that was so severe, her doctor ended up inducing her labor so they could get her on some stronger medication to take care of it. Hopefully yours isn't that bad. The good news is that my rash went away almost the second I had the baby. Good luck! Genevieve
There's something called PUPP--pruritic urticarial pustules of pregnancy--which basically means itchy bumpy rash of pregnancy. If it gets really bad and you can't bear it they give you steroids, but I think otherwise you have to grin and bear it. vam
I have just given birth to my second child. Within 3 weeks, my skin became highly itchy and wherever I scratched, bumps appeared and spread. This happened after the birth of my first child as well. In both cases, I also suffered an allergic reaction to the epidural tapewhich caused my back to be extremely itchy combined with a rash.The bumps usually begins on my arms and spreads to the rest of my limbs. I even have it on my scalp. It is extremely uncomfortable. The first time I had it, it was treated with Prednisone ( a steroid). This time the Prednisone did not work and the bumps came back. I have seen two dermatologists and one believes it is a flare up of adult excema and the other believes it is some sort of auto-immune reaction to the pregnancy. Both said it was not PUPPs since I was fine during the pregnancies. I currently am still suffering from it even though my daughter is now two and a half months old. The itchiness drives me crazy and the bumps are now reappearing with red welts as well. Has anyone experienced this? anonymous
I experienced a rash post-pregnancy, although it started during labor and continued after. I had severe hives and it was one of the worst things I have ever experienced - worse than recovery from the c-section. I had them all over my arms, legs, and back and stomach. I never had a diagnosis, but the prednisone did not work for me either. After about 2 months I went to an allergist who prescribed (not sure if I remember the dosage correctly) Zyrtec (10 mg once a day) and Hydroxyzine (2-4 pills of I think 5 mg each, depending on symptoms, before bedtime). The first week I took them the rash got worse, but after that it started going away. I can't remember how long I took them but not longer than 3-4 weeks, and the rash didn't come back. The allergist did not want me to breastfeed at all while taking these medications but I consulted with a lactation consultant, pediatrician, pharmacist and hotline dealing with medication while breastfeeding which all indicated it should be OK. I was careful not to breastfeed or pump within 4 hours of taking the medication. That was a big concern, but I could not deal with the rash any longer and would probably have stopped breastfeeding rather than continue to experience that. Perhaps you could consult an allergist about these issues (I got a full range of tests which indicated I was a highly allergic person but no specific diagnosis and nothing appeared serious). Ask your doctors about these medications or other antihistimines or see an allergist, be persistent and make sure they understand how this is affecting your life! Laura
i had very similar symptoms during pregnancy. bumps and welt- like rashes (where my clothes rubbed especially). nothing really seemed to help. but i also turned out to be allergic to the tape used to hold the epidural. huge red welts on my back when they took it off. but they prescribed a hydrocotisone cream which seeemd to do the trick after a few weeks. feel free to email. good luck.
Help! Ever since I gave birth to my son I have had a pimply rash all over my thighs. I assumed it was due to changing hormones and would go away on its own, but now it's been 7 months and it's still here. Bathing suit season is approaching and I don't know how to get rid of it. Has anyone else had a similar problem? Any suggestions? Thanks! Wishing for clear skin again
'm not sure if my problem was the same as yours, but I had terrible hives after giving birth to my son. After a course of prednisone, which cleared it up for a while and then it came back in a couple of weeks, my obstetrician recommended I see an allergist. He ran blood tests to rule out anything serious, but basically just gave me a course of Zyrtec and Hydroxizine (two antihistimines) which cleared it up in three weeks. He never determined the cause and they have been gone for a few weeks. This all happened within my first three months post partum.
I had that pimply rash on my thighs and upper arms for almost a year after I gave birth to my son! I used a loofa regularly, but it persisted. Then after about a year, it just cleared on its own. I hope yours will go away soon.