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. 

22 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

  • I had PUPPP as well, and I never heard of the banana peel thing! Wow, that’s crazy! I will have to remember that… I’m hoping I’m one of the women who doesn’t get it during subsequent pregnancies. But I have had a few people ask me how to cope, so I will add that to my list!

    I recently wrote a post about my experience with PUPPP and what worked for me as well.

    My Peanut Butter Problem: Survivng a PUPPP Rash

  • Jen

    I’ve had PUPPPS 3 TIMES! All boys. First time was postpartum, and didn’t realize what it was til I got it 8 years later. It spread all over my body and I was trying everything…finally found a few things that helped by the end of the pregnancy. Next pregnancy two years later, I was sure to stay ahead of it and use what I had learned. It worked and I was able to keep the itch and spreading to a minimum. Pine Tar soap did work for me, as did dandylion root pills.

  • That’s interesting! Thank you for sharing this idea. Who would have thought banana could help! :) I have shared a link to this on a Facebook page (PUPPP Remedies and Support).

  • Danya

    I have it with my two pregnancies one boy and a girl. The itch is horrible I event cut my belly with my nails because of all the scratching. The only thing that help me a little was rubbing ice directy in the belly. It was driving me crazy, the only good thing is that ended as soon I have the babies. (SORRY FOR MY ENGLISH is not my first language)

  • Natural_beauty

    I’m not sure if that’s what I have I don’t have stretch marks but I have a rash by my old c section incision and under my arms and behind my knees under my breast almost every where I keep scratching until I turn raw then it burns like crazy. I tried coconut oil it made the burning worse. Do you think this could be the same thing?

  • I’m sorry you are going through this! I definitely recommend seeing your OB or general practitioner to get properly diagnosed. I hope you feel better soon! — Judy

  • Ory

    I’m today 16 Weeks pregnant with our little Princess and yes, I have PUPPP again. First time was with my second son and I didn’t know this even happen in real life. It’s like a Horror movie, I don’t wish this to no one. The say happens only with boys or twins, or really big babies, well, my son was 12 lbs and this time I’m having a girl and is even worse. The first time I was on my last trimester but this time stared when I was 13 weeks and now I have it all the way from neck to inner thighs. I’ve try everything ppl said and nothing, everything is temporarily, I was solving some issue with my insurance to go to my dermatologist, can’t wait to start those oral steroids that was the only thing that calms my itching with my first time PUPPP, but now I’m trying this banana peels for sure. Hope it works. Thanks!!!

  • KB

    I tried BLACK CHERRY JUICE. Had PUPPPs twice and the second time the rash resolved within 2 weeks of drinking black cherry juice every day! Try it It’s easy. Buy this brand: Just Black Cherry | R.W. Knudsen Family.

  • margaret

    I think I have this although, I am not pregnant. I have been on birth control pills, and recently this rash developed that sounds just like what all these women are describing, and the pictures look the same. I stopped taking my birth control because now we are trying to get pregnant, and I did notice a little less intensity of the rash. Could you get this because of the hormones in BC? Nothing works and the itching is INSANE, I can’t sleep, and I itch till I bleed destroying clothes and sheets. About the banana peel, (stupid question) is it the outside or inside of the peel that you rub on yourself?

  • Alina

    The best remedy that helped me was accupuncture. Rash had subsided within a few days and then was gone.

  • Janet

    Hi ladies-
    I had my son 2 years ago. The itching burning rashes started two months pp. I still have flair ups to this day. I do think they are related to eating gluten or possibly yeast. But my rashes (itching, burning,raised, looks like poison ivy) are always on my breasts. Does this PUPPS last this long after pregnancy? Are your symptoms consistently on going, or just outbreaks that happen intermittently?

  • I would imagine that many reactions are different. I suggest checking with your doctor or midwife to determine if what you are experiencing is normal. Hope you feel better soon.

  • Kristel

    PUPPPS is the worst thing that happened to me post partum more than the episiotomy. Had it on my first pregnancy and im on my 39th week now of my second pregnancy, sadly im having it again and its making me crazy. Would definitely try the banana peel only thing that worked was ice packs and vitamin e lotion to relieve the severe itchiness

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