Treating PUPPP (Late Pregnancy Rash)

Toward the end of my nearly-42-week pregnancy with my first son, I developed intense itching in my stretch marks. When I say intense, I mean itching beyond any I’ve experienced before. And I’ve contracted nasty cases of poison ivy, oak, and sumac, so I like to think I’m an experienced itcher.

After a week or so using the banana peels, my rash marks are less visible.

After a week or so using the banana peels, my rash marks are less visible.

Not until after delivery, when I nearly scratched myself raw, did anyone take notice and diagnose me with  Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy (PUPPP). By this time, the rash had spread beyond my stretch marks onto my legs and eventually my toes.

It burned. Oh! Did it burn. And itch.

I tried as many remedies as I could while recovering from an unplanned cesarean and caring for a newborn, but nothing helped until eventually my midwives prescribed an oral steroid to treat the rash.

A few weeks ago, I noticed burning itching sensations on my belly. I feared (correctly so) that I developed PUPPP again. My midwives explained that more women develop PUPPP if they are carrying male babies–something about a potential allergy to the male fetal DNA. They also said it’s very rare for mothers to develop the rash in subsequent pregnancies (I didn’t have it with my second).

But I’m a rashy person. I’ve had all manner of fungi and allergic reactions. I can’t even use sulfur-products to treat burns. Of course I’d contract PUPPP a second time!

I’m only 35 weeks pregnant, so I have a potentially long time to wait until delivery and I don’t feel comfortable using oral steroids to treat my rash while pregnant. This time, I’m determined to find another solution.

Typical things women try include:

  • moisturize like woah
  • hydrocortisone cream
  • oral antihistamine
  • oatmeal baths
  • calamine lotion
  • something called Pine Tar Soap

I also heard from some crunchy mamas that homeopathic remedies like belladonna and something called Apis Mellifica 30C can be effective. 

As I gathered these lists of possibilities, I remembered that I have two temperamental sons who make trips to Whole Foods…challenging. Before I could coordinate an outing, another friend suggested something that sounded insane.

She told me to rub a banana peel on my rash.

Doesn’t that sound crazy? Why would that work? But I had bananas at my house. I most certainly did not have pine tar soap or apis melifica. So I peeled a banana for my kids and stood in the kitchen rubbing the peel on my giant belly.

The relief was instantaneous. Immediate. Hoo boy! Did I feel better. I don’t know why it works, but I know that it does.

I now keep plastic baggies of banana peel in my purse. I keep browning peels on the nightstand. We have bits of peel scattered throughout the house so I can slather myself if the itch flares up. One time, my husband emptied the compost for me (bless him!), taking all my bits of peel out into the yard. So I shamelessly went to the compost heap, extracted a banana peel, and stood in my yard with my shirt raised, rubbing a banana peel upon my full-moon-belly.

I’m also having a heck of a time with some seasonal allergies right now, so I’m also taking a daily loratadine. The combination of the bananas and antihistamine have, for now, succeeded in keeping the rash at bay. Even the red bumps have subsided. I’ll admit to indulging in a long scratch-session a few times per day, but mostly I don’t think about the skin of my stomach. Here’s hoping that keeps up for a few more weeks!

Have you experienced PUPPP? Leave us a comment to share the remedy that worked best for you. 

9 comments to Treating PUPPP (Late Pregnancy Rash)

  • I’ve never experienced PUPPP, but I recently heard that banana peels cure warts too. Must be some kind of crazy, cure-all that I’ve never heard of before! :)

  • […] now, I’m 36 weeks pregnant with a rash and a head cold and my kids wanted eggs, not cereal, for breakfast and I pretty much just want to […]

  • Katie

    I am 22 weeks pregnant with my son and have been experiencing PUPPPS since 18 weeks. It is awful! I have tried everything. I also developed it with my now 8 month old daughter but only towards the last few weeks of pregnancy and it flared up worse after I had her. This time, it is 1,000% worse and I have tried every remedy! I am looking forward to trying to soothe it with bananas!! Nothing has helped thus far! Thank you for this post!

  • Katy Rank Lev

    I hope it works for you, Katie! I wouldn’t have hesitated to take steroids again if the bananas didn’t help. It was the worst itching I’ve ever known.

  • Itchy Mama

    I’m in the throes of PUPPPs hell. I first had it 3 years ago, AFTER I delivered my daughter (which is rare). This time it started at 15 weeks (also rare). Now, at 20 weeks, it’s gotten so bad that I’m barely sleeping at night (whichever side of my body makes contact with the bed — or even sheets at this point — flares up) and I’m just scratching and on fire all the time. When it gets a little better in one place, it starts in another and is now covering much of the area between my chest and upper thighs. I’ve tried many of the recommendations (including banana peels! I think i felt better for a few seconds but it was really temporary), pine tar soap, acupuncture/Chinese herbs and more. Ice cubes applied directly to the welts helps for a bit. I also used a medium-grade steroid ointment prescribed by my dermatologist for 2 weeks, but was warned against long-term use. It did seem to successfully attack the patches of rash but then it would just migrate somewhere new. With 5 long months to go before delivery I’m on the verge of losing my sanity. Just wanted to vent, but wondering if anyone has info on oral prednisone in the second trimester. I can’t believe I’ve gotten to this point (I don’t want to do anything with even a glimmer of a chance of harming the baby.) But prednisone seems to be the one thing everyone says actually stops the itch, so I’m fantasizing …

  • Katy Rank Lev

    Oh man, I feel for you. That sounds just awful. Like I said, with my first I took the oral prednisone and it worked immediately. I don’t know anything about its safety in second trimester. Did your provider talk about it with you? It sounds like it’s awful for you and you have so long to go!

  • Oh man- PUPPPS is HORRIBLE. so so horrible. Glad you could find some relief with the banana peals (genius)! Although I’m not sure if your midwives were correct to suggest that it comes from male hormones. I had it twice with 2 different girl pregnancies (once was post-pregnancy). No fun!

  • Emily

    I believe I have this, it’s awful. I have the nasty rash all over my body. My legs are the worst, the itchy bumps have formed one massive hard spot surrounding my legs and my ankles are about the size of grapefruit. In a first time mom and am 34 weeks along with a girl. I found no relief in the banana but more power to you if it works. I’ve found that aloe vera with menthol works great for a few hours. My doctor did prescribe methyl predni solone and that has done nothing. The train I said I think I have this is because my midwife didn’t say anything about it when I complained about a bad itch a week and a half ago. My sister in law said I should go to the hospital and being that I’m fighting for insurance right now I had to go to the emergency room, all they said was it’s a viral rash and it’ll go away on its own soon. They prescribed a heartburn medication which i didn’t fill and said to take benadryl but that doesn’t seem to work either. I’m dying here and I feel so bad for those of you who said you’re in your earlier trimesters, I can’t imagine going through this that long. I hate the thought of 6 more weeks. I’m sorry this was more of a vent than anything.

  • I’m so sorry that you are going through this Emily! I hope you find some relief soon. ^Judy

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