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Pregnancy brings with it many things, some joyous and some…not. For about 1 in 160 expectant moms (less than 1 percent), one of the unfortunate side effects can be a rash with a mean itch known as PUPPPs, or pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy.
That mouthful basically means an inflamed red rash that usually starts during the third trimester for first-time moms or mothers of multiples on the abdomen, often in stretch marks. It may also spread to the buttocks, arms and legs and, and its worst, only spares the face and soles of the hands and feet. Why? That’s one of the most frustrating things about PUPPPs. There is no clear-cut answer.
Unlike many other unpleasant pregnancy side effects that can be blamed on surging hormones, this condition can’t. “Some studies suggest a relationship between skin distention (stretching/expanding of the skin) and the development of this condition; this is because the rash usually starts in stretch marks and there is a higher incidence of PUPPPs in multiple gestation pregnancies, as well as pregnancies with increased maternal weight,” says Ray Kamali, M.D., FACOG, New Mommy Media Contributor and Department Chair at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center in Chula Vista, Calif. “Other studies suggest a possible immunologic response to the circulating fetal antigens.”
Approximately 70 percent of women who have PUPPPs have one other thing in common: They’re having boys. This leads some experts to believe that it is attributable to hormones from the male fetus.
One positive about PUPPPs is that it poses no harm to baby, and no long-term or dangerous consequences to you.
Sadly, no. There’s no way to predict who will get it, and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it. All you can do if you do experience it is try to manage it as best you can; the itch may range from mild to very severe, but it does clear up within a couple of weeks after delivery.