Have you developed an intense rash during the third trimester of your pregnancy? Did it start on your belly and then spread to other parts of your body? Is the itching nearly unbearable? If yes, then it is possible you have developed the PUPPS Rash and you have my sincere sympathy.
Please do consult with your doctor to get checked out and for an official diagnosis. If it is PUPPS, your doctor might prescribe you a topical steroid cream to help relieve the itching. Unfortunately, in my case, the creams did not provide enough relief. So, in this article, I’ll explain more about the PUPPS Rash and 13 ways you can naturally treat it at home to help ease the itch.
What Is the PUPPS Rash?
The official name of PUPPS is Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy. It is a dermatologic condition typically developed in the third trimester of pregnancy or immediately in the postpartum period. It usually starts as an itchy, raised, red rash in the stretch marks of the belly and then spreads to the legs, arms, and chest within a matter of days.
While the exact cause of the PUPPS rash is unknown by the medical community, there are a few theories. One theory is that the rash is triggered when the skin on the belly is stretched in late pregnancy. The stress on the connective tissue leads to inflammation in the stretch marks and a red, swollen rash forms. A second theory is that PUPPS develops as an immune response to fetal cells that cross into the mother’s body. A third theory is that pregnancy causes certain organs like the liver to become overtaxed.
Is There A Cure For the PUPPS Rash?
Unfortunately, for those who suffer from the rash, there is no medical cure. The only cure is to deliver the baby, at which point the rash will typically disappear within 1-2 weeks. There are some medications that your doctor can prescribe (such as topical creams) that can treat the symptoms of the rash, but these treatments will not cure the rash or make it disappear. They will only help to temporarily ease the itching.
It is also important to note that although the rash is incredibly uncomfortable and may make the mother’s life miserable for the remainder of the pregnancy, PUPPS does not pose a health risk to the mother or baby.
13 Natural Treatments For The PUPPS Rash
Below are a variety of natural home treatments that may help temporarily relieve itching from the rash. Keep in mind that everyone’s body is different, so what works for one person might not work for another.
- Grandpa’s Pine Tar Bar soap – the bar smells like a campfire, but luckily the scent is not as strong after you rinse from the shower. You can buy it on Amazon or at stores like Whole Foods.
- Cold Water Bath – fill the bathtub with water as cold as you can handle (you can even add ice) and soak for as long as you can tolerate.
- Dandelion Root & Nettle – both are liver and blood purifiers so ingesting these may help cleanse the liver if that is what is triggering the PUPPS. Both can be found in tea and capsule form. Please consult your doctor before taking any new supplements.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – when applied topically to the rash areas it can potentially help balance pH levels in the skin.
- Olive Oil – apply topically after the apple cider vinegar to remoisturize the skin.
- Aloe vera gel – apply topically to help moisturize and soothe the irritated skin.
- Oatmeal Bath – commonly used to treat many allergic or inflammatory skin conditions.
- Baking Soda – may help alleviate discomfort and dry skin; add it to a bath or apply a thin paste (mixed with water) over the skin and let dry before rinsing off.
- Gram Flour Paste – may help reduce itching skin; apply the paste to the rash area and let dry before rinsing off.
- Chamomile – the soothing properties are sometimes used to treat skin conditions; you can apply it topically in gel or tea form to inflamed areas.
- Peppermint Oil – the menthol properties may help reduce itching; be sure to dilute the peppermint oil in a carrier oil (such as coconut, almond, etc.) and apply topically.
- Clove Oil – the oil may help soothe inflamed or damaged skin when applied topically; be sure to dilute the clove oil in a carrier oil (such as coconut, almond, etc.) before applying topically.
- Vegetable Juice – drinking vegetable juice may help detoxify the body.
My Experience With PUPPS
I developed PUPPS when I was 34 weeks pregnant with my twins. It started in the stretch marks of my belly and within a couple of days had spread to my arms, legs, chest, butt, and back. I don’t have words to describe the itch. It was everywhere and constant 24/7. I’ve never been so miserable in my life.
After about five days I was prescribed a steroid cream and over-the-counter Sarna lotion from my doctor. In my case, these topical creams only provided temporary relief (maybe 20 minutes) from the itching before I wanted to peel my skin off again. I don’t mind using medication when needed and if it works, but the relief offered from the itch was just too brief. Plus, even the non-steroid Sarna lotion was only supposed to be applied up to 3-4 times a day (so every 6 hours). And the steroid cream even less frequently. The 20 minutes of relief these creams offered was not getting me anywhere close to the 6+ hours between applications.
Turning to Google for Help
Desperate to find something to help relieve the itch in-between applications of the doctor-prescribed creams, I turned to Google to research natural solutions. The 13 treatments above are what I compiled after hours of scouring countless websites, articles, and forums, and reading about what had worked for other women.
I ended up trying about half of the suggestions above. Since I wanted to be able to identify which (if any) of the treatments helped, I limited myself to testing only one at a time. Of those that I did try, the two that helped me the most were scrubbing my body with Grandpa’s Pine Tar Soap in the shower, and soaking in a cold-water bath. These also only provided temporary relief, but they were things I could do to help manage the intense itch in-between applications of the doctor-prescribed creams.
I ultimately delivered my twin girls at 36+1 weeks and the PUPPS rash gradually disappeared post-partum over a few days. I’m pretty sure it was mostly gone by the time I left the hospital. At the very least, the severe itch was gone, even if the inflamed skin was still visible.
A Few Final Thoughts
If you (or someone you know) are experiencing a rash like what I have described above, I urge you to consult with your doctor. There is another condition called Cholestasis of Pregnancy that also involves itching, but Cholestasis can have much more serious medical complications for both mother and baby. It is important to know which condition you have. It is also possible to have both. I did, and the Cholestasis is the reason that my twins were delivered at 36 weeks.
If you are suffering from PUPPS, you have my sincere sympathy. I understand all too well how utterly miserable you are feeling. I hope that some of the suggestions listed above will help you find a little relief.
Finally, please be sure to consult your doctor before ingesting any new supplements listed above to address PUPPS. And remember, everyone’s body is different, so the natural treatments that help one person cope with the rash might not work for another.