Types of Rashes During Pregnancy

Written by - Reviewed by Consumer Health Digest Team

Published: Aug 18, 2014 | Last Updated: Feb 7, 2019

Rashes During Pregnancy

It is common to feel itchy during pregnancy. As the belly and breast increase, the skin stretches to accommodate them. This leads to several skin conditions specific to pregnancy, and rashes are one of them. The palms and the soles of the feet become itchier during pregnancy. These red dots on the body can be small, but they can also expand with itching. Rashes are most common during the third semester, when the itching reaches culmination.

Causes of Rashes During Pregnancy

There are several causes for rashes during pregnancy. Some of the common are hormones (estrogen), allergies, insect bites, skin infections, medicines and other conditions that usually are not itchy (dry skin for example).

Where do They Appear?

Depending on the type of the rashes, they can appear on several spots on the body. Most common are the rashes that start on the abdomen, and then spread to the breasts, arms, buttocks, and thighs. They can also appear on the legs, groins, kneels, underarms, and elbows. It is essential to notice where the rash has started, as it is easier to define which type it is.

How Rashes Affect The Baby?

Rashes are disorders that sometimes can be harmful for both the baby and the mother. Once mothers notice or spot abnormal changes in their skin, they should contact their physician. If acted early, there will be no harm for the baby. Otherwise, some rashes can cause serious problems.

Types of Rashes During Pregnancy

  • PUPPP: This type stands for Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy. It is an extremely itchy rash that covers the abdomen, thighs, and buttocks. This red rash can even spread to the arms and legs. It is not harmful for the baby or the mother. Known as the most common rash during pregnancy, PUPPP usually appears after week 34 of pregnancy, and disappears after the baby is born. This condition can be treated with corticosteroids and sometimes, oral corticosteroids are needed.
  • Prurigo of Pregnancy: These very itchy red dots are not harmful for the mother or the baby. Prurigo of Pregnancy can continue for several weeks or months after childbirth. They first appear on the arms and legs, but sometimes they can occur on the abdomen and buttocks. After delivery, the red dots spread all over the body. Prurigo of pregnancy appears in the middle months of the pregnancy (4-5), but some of the late forms appear in the last week as well. The condition can be treated with corticosteroid creams and antihistamine tablets.
  • Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy: This condition is common during the third semester of pregnancy. This type of rash during pregnancy forms in relation to a fluid produced by the liver known as bile. As bile fluids in the mother’s system increase during pregnancy, the liver slows down and Intrahepatic Cholestasis occurs. The condition can carry a risk of premature birth, sometimes even death of the baby. Early discovery of this type of rash is essential for proper treatment. Some of the treatments include anti-itch creams, medicines that reduce bile fluids and some medications for the baby. Intrahepatic Cholestasis will disappear after childbirth.
  • Pemphigoid Gestationis: This condition is very rare, as it affects 1 in 50,000 pregnant women. Pemphigoid Gestationis appears as round patches on the abdomen. Afterwards, it spreads, but never affecting face, neck and scalp. Treatment for this type of rash during pregnancy includes oral corticosteroids. It can be harmful for the baby, as it carries risk for low birth weight, or sometimes even premature delivery.
  • Impetigo Herpetiformis: These small blisters are very rare, but if they happen, they occur during the second half of the pregnancy. If they appear, an aggressive treatment is required (corticosteroids and antibiotics). Impetigo Herpetiformis disappears after delivery. Target body parts of this type of rash are groins, knees, elbows and underarms. Hair loss is common for the area where Impetigo Herpetiformis appears. Early diagnosis can help prevent this condition, as it carries a risk for maternal death and stillborn babies.
  • Pruritic Folliculitis of Pregnancy: Pruritic Folliculitis are rashes appear on the back, arms, abdomen and legs. The condition does not present risk for the baby, and disappears after childbirth. Treatment of Pruritic Folliculitis includes ultraviolet light therapy.

Treatment of Rashes During Pregnancy

Treatments for rashes during pregnancy depend on the type of the rash and degree of itchiness. However, there are some advices for prevention. Mothers should avoid hot showers or baths, and everything that dries the skin. Using unscented moisturizers after bath are recommended, as they help improve skin hydration. Heat will intensify itchiness, so avoiding it is recommended. This applies especially during the day when it is extremely hot. Wearing loose, cotton clothing may also help mitigate itchiness.

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