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Pregnancy not only takes you on a roller coaster of emotions, it also introduces changes in your body that are uncalled for. While the pregnancy glow is a preferable add-on, there are others like pregnancy rashes, stretch marks, and other skin conditions that women would prefer not to go through.
What are Pregnancy Rashes?
Rashes are skin conditions that present themselves during pregnancy due to symptoms of pregnancy They can also appear on some occasions due to irritants as well. There are different types of rashes that are caused due to various reasons, and it is best to consult a doctor if you notice a rash.
What Causes Rashes During Pregnancy?
There are no exact causes for rashes during pregnancy. Some types of rashes have not yet been linked to an underlying reason caused by pregnancy. However, certain rashes during pregnancy may be caused due to:
1. Hormonal Changes
Changes in the level of hormones, especially estrogen, are responsible for a lot of changes in your body and are equally to blame for certain skin conditions as well.
If your body or skin is triggered due to infections or allergic reactions, then your body will produce a compound called histamine as an immune response to the same. This can present itself in the form of rashes or bumps on the skin.
3. Hormones Affecting the Liver
Some conditions like cholestasis are caused by the high level of hormones in the body that affect the normal functioning of the gallbladder and lead to itchiness.
4. Foetal Cells Attack
There is also a theory that states that the cells of the fetus attack the mother’s skin which leads to bumps and rashes, paired with itchiness.
As your belly stretches due to the extra weight, the tissues stretch and may get damaged causing rashes. This is common if you are carrying more than one baby.
Where Do Rashes Appear When Pregnant?
Depending on the type, the rashes can appear anywhere on the body during pregnancy including the abdomen, thighs, hands, breasts, etc.
Can Rashes Affect Your Baby?
Most rashes like PUPPP do not affect your baby. But there are other rashes or skin infections, which, if not treated on time, may lead to complications and sometimes may even be fatal.
Types of Pregnancy Rashes
Some of the common rashes during pregnancy can be of various types and have a varying degree of severity as listed below.
Pruritic Urticarial Papules And Plaques Of Pregnancy (PUPPP) is a common type of rash experienced by many pregnant women. It is known to affect one out of every 150 pregnant women and presents itself around the 34th week. It is characterized by red spots or raised bumps paired with itching. According to some studies, it is believed that PUPPP is caused as a result of the foetal cells attacking the mother’s skin. The rashes due to this condition usually appear first on the abdomen and spread to the thighs, breasts, arms and the buttocks.
PUPPP does not cause any harm to the mother and the baby and reduces and disappears after delivery. It can also be treated using topical ointments.
2. Prurigo of Pregnancy
This condition is also known as eczema of pregnancy and usually occurs in the second trimester of pregnancy. Women with this condition will notice tiny red, itchy spots on the arms, legs, chest, etc. The spots resemble PUPPP, but they turn into dry patches that appear rough and worn out, like in eczema.
This condition may appear similar to atopic dermatitis, but should not be confused with it.
3. Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy
Cholestasis of pregnancy presents itself in the third trimester of pregnancy and affects about one out of every 1000 pregnancies. This condition is caused due to the rise in pregnancy hormones which affect the flow of bile out of the liver. As the flow of bile slows down, there is a build of bile in the liver, which may leak into the bloodstream. This causes a persistent itching sensation throughout the body but may be targeted at the hands and the feet. There are other symptoms of this condition which include pale coloured stool, dark urine, a mild case of jaundice, and discolouration of the skin (skin and eye may appear yellow).
Cholestasis may increase the risk of foetal distress and may even cause preterm birth and stillbirth. Hence, it is best if labour is induced when the baby’s lungs are well-developed to prevent any further complications.
4. Pemphigoid Gestationis
Pemphigoid Gestationis is an autoimmune disease that occurs in the third trimester of pregnancy but may begin even in the second trimester. In this condition, the Immunoglobin type G autoantibodies attack the cells of the skin causing the damage, as they incorrectly perceive it to be a threat. The condition presents itself as red bumps on the abdomen around the belly button and further spread to the arms, back, and buttocks. As they progress, these itchy bumps develop blisters that are filled with fluid or simply form raised patches.
It resolves in most women post-delivery; however, some women may continue to have it for a few months after delivery. It also not known to affect babies, but in the rare event of complications, it may lead to premature birth or transient blistering on the babies, which clears out within a few months once the antibodies subside in the mother.
5. Impetigo Herpetiformis
Although rare, this is a fatal condition that shows as blisters around the groin region and near the elbows and knees and causes rashes during early pregnancy as well. The blisters are formed in clusters and are filled with puss and dry and fall off within a few days. New blisters replace the old ones. This condition needs to be diagnosed at the earliest and the woman needs to be provided intensive treatment, as, if left untreated it could lead to stillbirth and even maternal death.
6. Pruritic Folliculitis of Pregnancy
Pruritic Folliculitis occurs on the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. This condition is characterized by tiny bumps like acne and is usually mistaken as bacterial folliculitis. It does not pose a threat to the baby or the mother and gets resolved after pregnancy.
Treatment for Skin Rashes in Pregnancy
Most of the pregnancy rashes are treated using topical application of corticosteroids. Benzoyl peroxide may also be used in the case of conditions like Pruritic folliculitis. Antihistamines like chlorphenamine may also be used to relieve itching. Sometimes, very rarely, oral corticosteroids like prednisone may be prescribed. You may also be advised to apply emollients that soften and moisturize the skin to prevent cracking and dryness.
You can also try out some natural remedies to help relieve your rashes and itches. While many of these remedies do not have a scientific backing, many women have found them to be helpful.
- Drinking pure vegetable juice can help detox and cleanse the body.
- Collagen supplements can help repair damaged tissue and strengthen them. Mixing a few spoons of grass-fed collagen in your juice can be the best way to consume it. Topical collagen cream application may not be very effective as the collagen molecules are too big to penetrate into the skin.
- Dandelion root and nettle leaf tea can purify the liver and blood and reduce itching and inflammation.
- Anti-inflammatory herbs like chamomile, Chinese skullcap, and calendula can help reduce inflammation of the skin on topical application. These herbs can be added to lotions, aloe vera or witch hazel for easy application.
- Soaking in a bath made of oatmeal can help reduce the feeling of itchiness on the skin. It will also moisturize the skin. You can also tie some chamomile tea and oatmeal in a cloth and drop it in your bath and soak in the water for 20 minutes.
- Adaptogens that alleviate stress can also help regulate the immune system. Since adequate research hasn’t been done about the use of adaptogens during pregnancy, it is best that you limit to the use of maca, which is largely recommended by herbalists.
- You can use chamomile and lavender to help relax and get some sleep if itching has caused you many sleepless nights.
- Black cherry juice is also a great way to get rid of PUPPP rashes during pregnancy.
Each kind of rash and skin conditions during pregnancy has a varying degree of severity. Hence, the best way to ensure safety to you and your baby is to get a diagnosis and treatment as soon as the first sign of a rash appears.