Rashes During Pregnancy

Majority of pregnant women have to suffer from pregnancy rashes. The skin rashes during pregnancy are quite common and harmless for both the woman and her child.
HerHaleness Staff
Last Updated: May 20, 2018
Expectant mothers often have to suffer from pregnancy rashes which are mainly caused by stretching of the skin, as the body prepares itself for further stages of pregnancy development and hormonal imbalance. Although they cause discomfort and irritation in pregnant women, they are mostly benign for both the would-be mother and her baby. There can be several types of skin rashes during pregnancy.
Causes of Rashes
During Pregnancy
A pregnant woman gets rash on her stomach because the stomach expands to accommodate the baby. The skin stretches and this causes it to itch. The other reasons for this rash on the stomach are hormonal changes that happen in the body of the woman. Hormonal changes can cause rash to appear anywhere on the body, such as arms, chest, legs etc. The following section describes the various types of rashes that are likely to occur at different stages of a woman's pregnancy.
The full-form of PUPPP is Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy. It is one of the most common rashes to occur at the time of pregnancy. It affects one in 100 expectant mothers, and manifests itself in the form of small elevated papules within the stretch marks on the abdomen. It is characterized by strong itching. PUPPP has a tendency to spread to arms and buttocks but never appears on the face. It occurs after 34 weeks of pregnancy and disappears after childbirth. It may recur with subsequent pregnancies. You can get relief from PUPPP by applying corticosteroids, topically. Other than that, oral corticosteroids, e.g. prednisolone are also available. PUPPP causes a change in mother's skin but is absolutely harmless to both the mother and her baby.
These are brown in color and are found on the face, especially on the cheekbones. However, this is not a skin rash, per se. Instead, it's a type of skin pigmentation occurring as a result of hormonal changes during pregnancy and due to certain medications administered during pregnancy. It lasts till the end of pregnancy and is not itchy or harmful. Melasma can be treated by using creams prescribed by the doctors.
Prurigo of Pregnancy
Prurigo of pregnancy is characterized by very itchy reddish spots. It generally occurs on the upper trunks and upper parts of arms and legs. It is rarely seen on the buttocks. Alike PUPPP, prurigo of pregnancy appears on stretch marks. It appears during second trimester of pregnancy and last week of pregnancy. Usually after childbirth, it spreads to the entire body, but within three weeks or so, it disappears. However, if you wish to rid yourself from prurigo of pregnancy, take anti-histamine tablets.
Papular Dermatitis of Pregnancy
The imbalance in the hormonal levels causes papular dermatitis of pregnancy. It mostly occurs due to the elevated levels of gonadotropins and lowered levels of cortisol and estrogen. Prurigo of gestation is again a common dermatosis (skin condition) of pregnancy and affects almost one in every 300 pregnant women. The characteristic features are extremely itchy, raised spots, which are red in color and get covered by crust. The spots are never found in groups. There is no definite time for the occurrence of papular dermatitis of pregnancy as it can appear at any stage of the pregnancy development, and continues to do so till the child is born. It does not cause any harm to either the mother or her baby. The treatment is generally done with high doses of corticosteroids.
Impetigo Herpetiformis
This one is a rare dermatosis of pregnancy. You can easily identify this type of pregnancy rashes as they appear in clusters of pus-filled blisters, arranged in somewhat a spiral shape. The blisters scab and disappear after a few days, but are followed by the formation of new blisters at their edges. The cycle repeats as the illness progresses. Impetigo herpetiformis is accompanied with chills, fever, vomiting, loose stools, hair loss, and pain in the joints. You will find mild itching and burning sensation in the rashes. It usually starts with groins, armpits, and folds of elbows and knees, and looks like a shallow ulcer when it affects the mucus membranes of mouth and reproductive organs. It occurs mostly during the last trimester of pregnancy and disappears after the delivery of the child, and generally, leaves scars behind. Intake of adrenocorticotrophic hormone that raises the production of steroids in your body, and cortisone are effective in the treatment of impetigo herpetiformis.
Heat Rash
This irritating and itchy heat rash is caused due to a combination of the heat in the body due to pregnancy, perspiration and the rubbing of skin against the clothing. This rash is more apparent beneath the breasts and in the creases formed due to the bulge of the lower abdomen. It can also appear in the genital areas and on the thighs, especially the inner thigh. The treatments for this rash include taking cold water baths and using prickly heat creams prescribed by the doctors.
Pruritic Folliculitis of Pregnancy
This type of pregnancy rash is similar to prurigo of pregnancy. It also resembles the steroid induced acne. It mostly affects the trunk of the expectant mother. However, the incidence of this type of pregnancy rash is rare.
While bathing, it is recommended that the woman should use a mild soap and cold water. However, if bathing with cold water is not an option, then she should use tepid water for her bath. Hot water increases the itchiness in the skin and makes the skin redder, and the rash may increase. She should thoroughly dry herself with a soft towel and apply some rash cream to soothe the itching. It is also recommended that she visit her doctor and dermatologist for consultations, if the rash increases and becomes unbearable.

Rashes during the various pregnancy stages are, most of the time, completely harmless. Still, it is considered safe to consult your doctor for their early and timely diagnosis, so as to avoid any further complication.
This article is intended for information purpose only. Do not use the information presented herein as a substitute for medical practitioner's advice.