Saturday, June 29, 2013

Treatment for relief of PUPPP pregnancy rash

Last week, I shared about my pregnancy rash, which I first noticed on my stomach on Wednesday.  Over the course of the next few days, the rash spread and intensified to a nearly unbearable level.  (See nasty pictures below.)  It was so bad that my hands would sometimes swell to a point where I could not bend my fingers.  I could not sleep more than an hour or two total each night, sometimes less, and I had very little relief from the many remedies I tried, including 1% hydrocortisone, calamine lotion, and aloe.  The only thing that really gave me any relief was icing my hands and soaking my feet in cool water.

I spent a miserable weekend and returned to my doctor on Tuesday of this week.  When she got a look at my hands and arms, she decided immediately that we had to take action.  She prescribed me a steroid pack and also arranged for me to see a dermatologist that afternoon.  Then she had the nurse draw my blood to test for a buildup of toxins in my system.

I went to the dermatologist, who said she thought that it could actually be a different kind of pregnancy rash called pemphigoid gestationis.  (It is also known as herpes gestationis, but it has nothing to do with the herpes virus.)  She did a biopsy on two different spots on my back to see if that is indeed what it is.

If it does turn out to be pemphigoid gestationis, that will leave me with a whole host of other issues with which I will have to deal.  Among the most terrifying is the fact that it would mean that every subsequent pregnancy is likely to involve another rash outbreak.  As someone who wants to have a large (by modern standards) family, this really concerns me.  I am not sure how many times I could do this again.

Pemphigoid gestationis is known to cause low birth weight, which is certainly not the case for my son, as well as blistering of the skin.  So far, I have not really had blisters form, so I am hopeful that the biopsy results will be favorable.

After I left the dermatologist, I got my prescription for Methylprednisolone tablets filled and hurried home to start them as soon as possible.  It was several hours before I noticed any improvement, but just knowing that something was being done about this horrible rash was enough to cheer me up significantly.

Since then, the rash has continued to improve a little each day.  The itching is now confined mostly to my hands and feet, and it is mild enough to be controlled by regular washing with Grandpa's Pine Tar Soap (available at Whole Foods), lotion, and soaking.  I am hopeful that it will continue to improve over the next few days, and hopefully I will deliver my son soon, and I can move on from this nightmare.

The point of this story is that you do NOT always have to suffer through PUPPP or other pregnancy rashes.  When I was researching the rash and trying to find ways to deal with it, it seemed like everyone who had experienced it was told that it is just something they have to deal with until delivery.  Their doctors did not seem to take it very seriously at all, and so they just continued to suffer through sleepless nights and excruciating days until they delivered their babies and the rash finally went away.

But having talked to my doctor, I realized that is not necessary.  There is treatment for pregnancy rashes that is safe for the baby and can provide significant relief.  Some doctors just take the whole thing more seriously than others, so if your doctor thinks that your PUPPP rash is no big deal, do not be afraid to get aggressive and push for a steroid pack or other treatment.  It is ridiculous for women to have to suffer through this, especially when they are supposed to be resting up for D-day.

If you have a rash during pregnancy, make sure to talk to your doctor about it right away, just in case it is not just PUPPP but is instead something more serious.

My hand during the first few days of the rash

My leg 

My hand with lots of bubbles of swelling


  1. Oh, my word. You poor thing. Remember, no diagnosis is the ultimate authority. We'll pray and believe you'll be free of this thing.

    P.S. I really don't see why your docs don't induce you yet. With all you're going through, the baby measuring so large, etc and the fact you're full term. Many women I've known have had C-sections at 38 weeks. I'd go in and insist!

    1. My doctor originally said that she does not like to induce early due just to size because there is a possibility that the lungs may need more time to develop. Now that I have had a regimen of steroids, though, maybe the answer will change! Or better yet, I will just go into labor in the next day or two. That's what I really want to do!

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