Struggling with PUPPS? How to survive Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques

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This post is based on personal experience and not to be taken as medical advice. Consult with your doctor when making medical decisions.

Being pregnant is tough for a lot of women.

I was prepared for (or at had expectations of) morning sickness, headaches, and uncomfortable swelling.

I was prepared to read the right books about my baby, to organize a registry, and to have everything together to be able to pump at work when I went back.

But I wasn’t prepared for PUPPS.

In fact, prior to getting pregnant I had never even heard of PUPPS.

So when this crazy itchy rash started to overtake my body, I had no idea what was going on.

I started Googling like crazy. Searching for an explanation and a cure.

I literally felt like I was going to slowly go crazy because of how badly my skin itched.

But unfortunately… there is no cure.

So if you have PUPPS, let me just say to you that I am so, so, so sorry. I know how much it sucks (and yes, I do know saying it just “sucks” is an understatement).

Despite having no cure, I was able to find some relief by applying coconut oil. And the trick I used even seemed to lighten the rash.

What is PUPPs?

If this is your first time hearing of PUPPS, or Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques, you’re not alone.

I had never heard of it until I began frantically searching the internet for why this strange rash was gradually overtaking my body at 26 weeks pregnant.

PUPPs is a rash that some women get that generally starts in and around stretch marks. Typically on her stomach and then spreads to your arms and legs.

It is most common for first time moms with boys (like me!), or moms of multiples.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, approximately 1 in every 150 women will have PUPPs.

Normally, the PUPP rash doesn’t show up until you’re in your third trimester, but lucky me! Mine started early.

It looks like red pumps/ splotches that itch like crazy.

Getting a diagnosis

Since there are no tests for for Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques, your doctor will hopefully want to examine you and rule out other potential concerns.

Or they may even disregard you at first.

If you think you might have PUPPs I strongly recommend discussing it with your OB or medical provider.

My provider assumed that it was just a heat rash (I was SUPER pregnant in the middle of a very hot Maryland summer), or that I had come into contact with some kind of allergen. But when it didn’t go away and seemed to get worse, they finally listened to me.

Hospital Necessities

So, at first I was tested for Obstetric Cholestasis, a liver disorder impacting pregnant women that comes with itchy feet and palms. It also would have meant I was having a high risk pregnancy and me and my baby would have needed much closer monitoring.

Thankfully, the results were negative.

Once Cholestasis was ruled out, my OB finally acknowledged that I did, perhaps have PUPPs.

However, since it causes no harm (and I use the word “harm” loosely – as slowly going crazy seemed likely at the time) to the mother or child, OBs generally don’t take action.

Eventually, however, the itching was so bad I would wake up in the middle of the night bleeding because I had scratched myself in the night.

Eventually, my OB provided me with some methylprednisolone and suggested cortisol cream in moderation. None of it helped. And to be honest, I hated taking it while pregnant. And since it did nothing to help me (even though my baby ended up being fine despite taking it), I wouldn’t do it again.

Treating PUPPS

I spent plenty of time frantically perusing the internet for something, ANYTHING to help alleviate the total madness PUPPs inspired in me.

I also threw away money on products people all over the internet recommended.

And there were a lot of things that offered short-term relief such as a cool shower, Oatmeal baths, a strange Pine Tar soap, and cold packs.

They helped.

But none of them offered long-term relief.

Then I tried Coconut Oil and, after several applications I could sleep without tearing up my skin again!

I applied it at least twice a day: in the morning and right before bed. But after a couple of days of applying it religiously, I finally started to feel some relief!

It didn’t totally remove the itchiness, but it greatly decreased it. And it even seemed to lighten the rash.

Coconut oil has long been touted as potentially useful for relieving some of the itchiness people with eczema deal with. And that’s largely because it contains properties that are both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. Huzzah!

Not only that, it can help moisturize your skin. And anyone whose ever had dry skin knows that dry skin=itchy skin.

For me, it was a total life saver.

Good luck!

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