PUPPPS: It’s Not Cute or Cuddly

Have you heard of PUPPPS? I hadn’t either until they started showing up on my arms. It’s the most common pregnancy rash and one lucky woman out of about 150 gets to experience it. According to my online research 70% of the women that get it end up giving birth to boys so the belief is that it has something to do with your body trying to get rid of male fetal hormones.

I won’t scare you with photos of my PUPPPS, but if you’re brave you can Google it. But let me warn you, it’s not pretty. Mine first started showing up last week. It was an innocent cluster of blisters on my forearm. I showed it to my doctor and she said casually, “oh, it’s PUPPPS. Not much you can do. Just get some Benadryl to help with the itch.” I didn’t think much of it until the PUPPPS started expanding, spreading and intensifying. It spread on both arms and then to my thighs.

Have you ever had the chicken pox? Yeah, this is a million times worse. I’ve been allergic to bug bites my whole life (I once returned from summer camp with 200 bites on my back.) So I’m no stranger to intense itchiness. I think that has helped me mentally overcome this, but there have been moments of weakness, sobbing sessions and lots of prayer. After two days of the rash getting worse I called my doctor’s office and they told me to get Zyrtec allergy medicine. I think the worst part about PUPPPS is that the common medical belief is that there is nothing you can do– it will just magically disappear once you have the baby. But when your adorable baby isn’t likely to show up for another six weeks the thought of that leaves you feeling utterly hopeless. Six weeks of laying awake in the middle of the night covered in ice packs? Six weeks of not being able to focus on anything but the itch? Six weeks of looking like someone threw boiling water over your body? That just wasn’t good enough for me. So I started researching it.

Here’s what I have tried so far:

  • Drinking decaf green tea once a day which is supposed to help liver function. (Your liver is responsible for getting rid of toxins from your body.)
  • Drinking V8 juice once a day. (Again to help the liver.)
  • Grandpa’s Tar Pine soap. (Something other women recommended. You can buy it at a natural market for about $4. It smells like a campfire and I scrubbed several times a day with it.)
  • Various creams and anti-itch remedies. (Benadryl and Neosporin seem to work the best for me.)
  • Covering my body in baking soda paste. (This was often my mom’s remedy of choice when I had a bad bug bite as a child. It does offer temporary relief.)
  • Ice packs. (These are my saving grace in the middle of the night to dull the itch.)
  • Zyrtec. (Taken once a day at my doctor’s recommendation. I didn’t think it was working, but then when I didn’t take it one day I realized that it had in fact been working!)
  • Silver spray. (I got this at the natural health market and it naturally kills germs, reduces redness and stops itch. It really works, but I used up the $15 bottle in two days.)
  • Aloe vera gel. (I think this works, too to stop itch, soothe skin and kill bacteria.)
  • Dandelion root pills. (This supposedly is a miracle worker for many women. You take two pills 2-4 times a day and it helps your liver.)
  • Upping my water intake. (I figure this can never hurt and will help rid my body of toxins.)
  • Prayer. (I literally feel too weak to deal with this on my own so I had to give the burden to God which helped me feel much better emotionally.)

I’m happy to say that my PUPPPS appears to have stopped spreading. And some areas are actually healing! My shoulders are almost completely healed and other areas of my arms are showing improvement. My left leg is the worst and yesterday walking was painful because of how inflamed and swollen it is. Today it is not as bad. I think the most important thing is that I have hope and believe that this will go away in a few days.

One woman on one of the forums I read said she would rather give birth without pain medication 100 times than to go through PUPPPS again. That makes me wonder if this will end up having a positive impact on delivering my baby. After all, pain and discomfort has a lot to do with perspective. If you’ve never gone through adversity, tough situations can seem worse. It’s also reaffirmed once again that I have the most amazing, supportive husband and when he tells me he would take this for me in a heartbeat if he could I truly believe him.

I truly hope you never have to go through PUPPPS. But if you do, don’t lose hope. Try everything you can to get those toxins out of your body and be encouraged by the one good thing about PUPPPS– it almost never appears on your face.



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