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. 

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