PUPPS. No, unfortunately I don't mean cute baby dogs.
I mean Polymorphic eruption of pregnancy, an itchy bumpy rash that starts on your stretch marks and can last for 3 months, right up until birth. Handn't heard of it, no me neither!!!
Let's be honest, talking about a rash has to be up there on one of the top 10 most embarrassing things to talk about and had talking about the difficult stuff not been our mantra I probably wouldn't have told a soul. But since it is, I feel it is important to share my experience and as I was so brutally unaware that this was even a thing i'm pretty sure my naivety means that other people too are blissfully unaware of how horrific this can be.
It all began at week 24 when I discovered a rash under my (NOW ENORMOUS) boobs. I'd seen really small stretch marks under them the day before and decided to put some baby oil to ease the stretch. So when I woke the next day bright red, itchy and sore I immediately thought it was an allergy. The doctor did too as over the next few days it grew worse. I gained a temperature and it started to spread down my body. I looked like something out of the rocky horror show. The doc gave me antibiotics, soothing cream and body wash and told me to monitor it. I mean it was hard to think of anything else BUT IT!
Five LONG days of hell later, completely sleep deprived and an emotional itchy mess. I call the doctor in despair. The rash has not gone, if anything it had gotten worse and I was at my wits end. Self diagnoses via our mate Google has sent me into a wild panic that I now have what is known as ICP, or Intrahepatic Cholestasis pregnancy as its named. Something I had no idea about either!!!! This is a liver condition in which the normal flow of bile is impaired resulting in severe itching in the mother. There is huge risk of stillbirth and prematurity. So as you can image I am beginning to PANIC. The doctor sends me off for blood tests immediately, obviously he feels the same panic.
To cut a very long story short, a story which involves A&E and triage, (FIRST TIME MUM MENTAL CASE ALERT) so uncomfortable I am unable to wait for said blood tests, and a lot of toing a froing. I am diagnosed with PUPPS. Although my liver levels are heightened, they are not yet at a level which causes concern but I will be monitored closely throughout the rest of my pregnancy.
So what the hell is PUPPS:
-It is an itchy bumpy rash, annoying but benign.
- There is no reasoning for it. It is not due to Hormone levels. It just IS.
- It usually develops on the abdomen by stretch marks.
-It occurs in 1/150 pregnancies.
- It is most common in first time mothers or those carrying multiple.
- It develops near your 3rd trimester and disappears after birth.
- It does not effect your baby.
Frustratingly as mentioned it just is what it is and there is not much anyone can do about it. Its a case of coping. A few things that I have read and tried that have so far helped are:
- Oat baths- yes exactly how it sounds, ground up porridge oats poured into a luke warm bath really soothe your skin.
-Grandpas pine tar soap- Ok so it smells bloody awful, a lot like tcp but it really does help!
- Low dosage steroid cream - Make sure this is prescribed by your doctor as steroids are harmful to a baby so it needs to be very low %.
- Soft cotton PJs, preferable wear these all day if you aren't leaving the house.
It is really important not to suffer in silence. Pupps can be really painful and can make you feel incredibly down. Make sure you see your doctor and don't downplay it if you fear you are making a fuss over nothing. Pupps can be the first sign of ICP so it is really important to be monitored closely.
Most people itch during pregnancy, this is usually down to stretching of the skin, but it is always worth getting it checked out by the docs, just in case!
If you have any questions about it please get in contact with me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will answer to the best I can from my experience.
Here is a rather glamorous shot on the rash, trying to find an angle that doesn't show my every growing rack was tricky!!!
Pregnancy really is not for sissys!!!!