The Mom’s Beat: Pregnancy rash can make mom-to-be miserable

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by Laura Stetser by Laura Stetser

Pregnancy can do strange things to a woman’s body besides a growing abdomen. Hair can change from straight to curly. Feet have been known to grow permanently into a larger size.

I was on standby to watch for those biological alterations when I was pregnant with my first-born. I expected some other oddities, but I was not prepped for what occurred.

Around the beginning of my third trimester in early summer when the temperatures started to spike, I started getting a rash on my abdomen. I thought it was heat rash, since it was getting warmer.

I was working full time and didn’t want to take off for yet another doctor appointment unless it was warranted, so I ignored it for about a week.

By then the rash had spread and was so itchy that I called my primary care doctor to inquire about poison ivy or some other cause.

He ruled out a slew of plant-related skin conditions, along with heat rash and other possible culprits. He told me he simply had no idea.

My obstetrician said he believed it was a pregnancy-related rash, but that he had never actually seen it present itself on any of his patients.

I started searching the Internet. Ultimately, by reading other mothers’ descriptions and browsing through the scary world of online rash pictures, I concurred that I had a case of PUPPP.

 PUPPP stands for pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

It’s an incredibly itchy rash that starts on the abdomen and spreads to the legs and arms. I was pregnant through a very hot summer, and the heat made it worse by a mile. And since I was working, I was wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts to cover the unattractive rash, which made me warmer and even itchier. I was simply miserable.

I dropped nearly $100 on every anti-itch cream the drugstore had and spent the next week slathering it on.

One day I was a big pink blob from calamine lotion; the next I was like a walking breath mint, smothered in a cooling gel with an intense minty odor.

None gave me much relief, and my doctor said I could take Benedryl at night to sleep, which I was reluctant to do.

I finally happened to find a family-owned herbal soap company in Washington called Rainier Soapworks that sold a PUPPP relief soap online. It was cheaper than the creams I had bought and without all of the chemicals they contained – a big win in my book. I figured it was worth a shot and ordered four bars.

The soap arrived as promised and had a subtle and natural minty scent. The instructions said to lather up the soap and let it sit on the skin for a few minutes.

I have never been so thankful for a bar of soap in my life. It worked immediately and gave me longer periods of relief than anything else. I was so thankful that I wrote the soap maker, thanking her profusely for creating this wonder and for giving me a natural option for relief.

Just as other mothers reported, the rash disappeared after my daughter was born. There were no scars except the faint memory I have at this time every year of that unrelenting itching.

Laura Stetser is a full-time reporter and mother of two school-age children. Connect with her via email at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @TheMomsBeat.

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