A few days after Violet was born I started feeling a little itchy, and saw some small red blotches appearing on my chest. I didn’t think too much of it – figuring maybe she had clawed me a little while I was holding her and my skin was just a bit irritated. I laid down for a nap. When I woke up there was a rash covering my chest and my torso and it itched like CRAZY. I started googling.
After searching for some time I came upon something called PUPPS – Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy. The thing is, PUPPS usually happens during pregnancy, generally during first pregnancies, 70% of the time the mothers are carrying boys, and usually the mothers are carrying multiples. As you know, none of these things applied to me. But, the symptoms themselves and the pictures I was looking at seemed like an exact match. I started looking for something, anything, to give me relief from the unbearable itching.
I was incredibly disheartened to read that there was no “cure” for PUPPS (they don’t even really know the cause) and that sometimes women find the itching so bad they have their doctors induce them because most of the time PUPPS goes away once your baby is born. For me, this wasn’t even on the table. I was frantic.
I sent my husband to Whole Foods to buy up any holistic remedy I found on the internet (which I will post about below). I was all about the shotgun approach since I was so desperate. While he was gone I called my OB to make an appointment, and spoke to my daughter’s pediatrician to make sure all the things I were about to try were ok for the baby. I got my OB appointment for the next day (which seemed like an eternity away) and got the all clear from the pediatrician. My husband came back and I began my home-remedy assault. Here’s what I tried:
Grandpa’s Pine Tar Soap – This stuff will make you smell a bit like you spent too much time next to the camp fire, but I didn’t care. I took a warm shower with it and left the lather on me for a few minutes before rinsing it off. I did this a few times that day. This soap is written about all over the internet as a PUPPS helper. It did seem to give me some relief from the itching.
Natures Gate Skin Therapy Colloidal Oatmeal Lotion – I put this on after each shower, and sometimes in between. This lotion is supposed to help with itching. I’m not sure how much it really did for me, but I didn’t care.
Dandelion root capsules – The bottle said take 3 pills, 3 times a day. Dandelion Root is said to help improve liver function. I figured it couldn’t hurt. I can’t really say if this helped, but improved liver function sounds good!
Benadryl Itch Stopping Gel - the Nurse Practitioner I spoke to at my OB’s office recommended trying this since I wasn’t going to see my OB until the next day and get something stronger. We had some on hand for mosquito bites in the summer so I was all for it. It helped some to relieve the itching – for about 5 minutes.
Claritin – I think in the end this was my savior. Maybe 10 minutes after I took the first pill I started feeling better, and within an hour the itching was bearable again. I took a 24 hour pill, but within 12 hours the rash was back with a vengeance and I had to take another pill (this was at 4am). Be sure to NOT take Claritin D if you are nursing, the “D” kind will decrease your milk supply.
The next day I saw my OB and she gave me a topical steroid cream as well as a steroid pack. She also told me to keep taking the Claritin, and try Benadryl at night. She said that the two medicines work different ways so it was kind of like hitting the problem on two fronts. Mercifully, within a few days the PUPPS rash seemed like it was all gone.
Besides the prescriptions, you can get all these remedies over the counter at a health foods store (or Whole Foods) and a drug store like CVS or Walgreens. Be sure to check with your OB and your child’s pediatrician before trying any remedies to be sure they think they are safe for you and your baby.
So, if you have PUPPS, first I would like to say I am terribly sorry because I know how awful it is. Second, I hope some of these remedies help you get at least a little relief. And also, for the very very few of you out there who might get PUPPS after delivery I just wanted to let you know that yes, it can happen, even though it is rare. My OB said she had only heard of it happening once before. Either way, hang in there – and GOOD LUCK!