A pregnancy rash should be reported to a doctor as rashes could indicate a more dangerous condition for both mom and baby.
Pregnancy Changes Skin
Getting pregnant changes a woman's body. Her skin is not immune to the hormonal changes she is going through. She may become more sensitive to detergents and her stomach may itch due to the rapid belly expansions needed to accommodate a growing baby.
A pregnant woman may find herself feeling warmer as she gets further into her pregnancy, especially during the summer months. Heat rash and friction rash are common conditions that cause discomfort during pregnancies. To combat the problem, wear loose and lightweight clothing. Stay inside or in the shade and bathe regularly.
Stretch marks are another common skin condition that occurs to women during pregnancy. They are jagged lines on skin that has stretched. Marks may appear purple or red at first, but will fade to skin tone or lighter with time. Using a stretch mark cream might help with both itching and appearance.
Melasma, also called the "mask" of pregnancy, is another rash-like condition where splotchy dark patches appear on her face. Linea nigra, a line from the belly button going down into the pubic region, may also look like a rash at first.
PUPPP (or PUPPS) is technically called pruritic uticarial papules and plagues of pregnancy. It is a red itchy rash that usually occurs in the third trimester of pregnancy. It commonly begins in the abdomen and gradually travels to the back, butt, and extremities. Often, relief is given in the form of topical anti-itch creams, like cortisones, and antihistamines.
No adverse reactions have been observed with regards to the developing baby. If you have the rash in one pregnancy, it does not raise your chances of having it in another. The rash and itching will subside and disappear after the birth of the baby, usually within a few weeks.
Although the exact cause of this rash is not known, researchers have been looking into the theory that escaping cells from the fetus irritate the mother and cause the rash. They also have been studying any long term effects it has on the mother.
Other Pregnancy Rashes
While PUPPP rash may be one of the most commonly known pregnancy rashes, there are others out there. While most are simply uncomfortable for the mom-to-be, there are several rashes that can cause complications for the developing baby, both in utero and after birth.
Prurigo gestationis occurs in the latter half of pregnancy. Small itchy bumps appear on hands, feet, arms and legs. Prurigo gestationis may be uncomfortable, but causes no harm to the mother or baby. When the pregnancy ends, so will the condition.
Herpes gestationis is also known as pemphigod gestationis. Although called herpes, it is not related to the disease; instead, it appears to be an autoimmune disorder that causes an itchy rash which becomes blistering lesions. Merck cites that approximately 25 percent of women with the problem will be subject to reoccurrence and 10 percent of fetuses will be affected (have the rash or lesions). It often worsens near or after the birth, and can take several months to be resolved.
Cholestasis of Pregnancy
Cholestasis of pregnancy is a liver condition during pregnancy that can cause intense itching for the mother, which may result in a rash. The palms of the hands and bottoms of the feet are especially affected. Symptoms similar to jaundice, like yellow eyes or skin, are also clues to the diagnosis.
Risks to the mother are small. She will have irritated skin until delivery, at which point the condition usually subsides. However, her risk for having the condition again is raised to around 70 percent according to MayoClinic.com. Pre-term birth and meconium are both risks to the unborn child. Even (rare) fetal death can occur. For these reasons, an induced labor may be the best course of action in order to prevent an unfavorable outcome.
Most of the rashes discussed can be treated with an over-the-counter (OTC) medication. From calamine lotion to hydrocortisone creams to antihistamines, your doctor will recommend the best drug for your particular condition and symptoms. Even commonly used OTC drugs can have adverse side effects for a developing baby, so be sure to check with your physician before using anything.
Women suffering from cholestasis of pregnancy may find comfort by joining the Itchy Moms Support Group online. There, they can learn more about the condition and discuss remedies and fears with other women who have been diagnosed with the problem.