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Skin Rashes During pregnancy: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatments

Skin rashes are among the most common skin disease conditions most women encounter, especially
early, during and after pregnancy.

One study showed that  1 in every 50 to 5000 pregnant women suffer from skin-related diseases.
And according to one study, the incidence occurs in 1 in 160 to 200 pregnant women.

In this article, we are going to breakdown the symptoms, causes, and treatments of skin rashes during pregnancy:

Skin Rashes During pregnancy: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatments
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Causes Of Skin Rashes During Pregnancy

The main causes of skin rashes during pregnancy are mainly due to hormonal changes, enzymatic and immune responses. While others may be due to metabolic imbalance. These physiological changes lead to many skin disease conditions as discussed below:

Pruritic Folliculitis Of Pregnancy

This is a skin condition which affects about 1 to 3000 women with pregnancy. The condition normally starts during the second and third trimester of pregnancy. The common symptoms of pruritic folliculitis are follicular papule and erythematous, which can be seen on the shoulders, upper back, chest, arms, and abdomen ( source).

Prurigo Of Pregnancy

This skin disease condition may be seen in approximately 1 in 300 women with pregnancy. The condition normally starts 25 to 30 weeks of pregnancy, which may progress 3 months after pregnancy.

The common symptoms of prurigo are nodules, extreme dryness of the skin and 1 to 5mm size erythematous pruritic papules ( source).

The affected areas of the body are shoulders and extensor surfaces of extremities.

Eczema Of Pregnancy

Most of the incidence of eczema during pregnancy occurs in primigravida in the first and second trimester with eczematous changes such as rashes.

The symptoms are mostly seen around atopic areas like face, neck, upper chest, and the flexural
surface of the extremities (source).

Polymorphic Eruptions Of Pregnancy

This is a skin condition which is associated with rapid and excessive abdominal distension, which
causes inflammatory changes.

Polymorphic eruption of pregnancy usually occurs in 1 in 160 to 200 pregnant women with
symptoms of excessive maternal weight gain and multiple pregnancies.

Polymorphic eruptions of pregnancy are benign, meaning: the disease condition has no effect on the
genotype of both the baby and his mother.

It affects primigravidae in the last weeks of pregnancy or immediately after postpartum and goes typically away on itself.

Pemphigoid Gestationis 

This an autoimmune disorder that normally appears in late pregnancy or immediately after delivery,
 but pemphigoid gestationis can also be seen in any of the three trimesters with an incidence of 1 in
every 50,000 pregnant women.

The symptoms of pemphigoid gestation are usually intense pruritic erythematous urticarial papules,
and plaques also appear on the abdomen and umbilical region.

The risk associated with this skin condition is low with lesion in 5% to 10% for-date babies and
premature birth due to passive transplacental transmission of antibodies (source).

Intrahepatic Cholestasis Of Pregnancy

Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy is a skin disease condition, which is believed to be genetically

deoestrogen-dependent skin disorder. It causes suppression of bile flow with or without jaundice.

The incidence is 1 in every  50 to 5,000 pregnant women . ICP usually starts in the 3rd trimester with
 clinical features such as the appearance of pruritis on palms and soles, which quickly becomes

Symptoms are secondary lesions and severe itching on limbs, abdomen, and back. The severity of the
symptoms become worst during the night.

Treatments Of Skin Rashes During Pregnancy

Now you know the causes of skin rashes during pregnancy, let's look at how these skin diseases can
be properly managed and treated:

The aim of treating cholestasis ( this is a skin condition which leads to the suppression of bile flow)
 is to reduce serum bile acid levels. Ursodeoxycholic acid is the treatment of choice, because it decreases maternal itching or prurigo, liver transaminases ( This is an unusual increase in the levels
of a family of enzymes called transaminase), and bile acid levels. One report showed that Urtisodeoxychilic can also reduce the cases of fatal outcomes till delivery, however, enough information is lacking with regard to this scenario (Source).

Cholestyramine can also be used, however, this drug can cause vitamin K deficiency, which can
significantly increase the present condition.

Other over-the-counter medications are steroids and antihistamines.

PUPPP ( Pruritic Urticarial  And Plaques Of Pregnancy Papules) is a skin disease condition with less
effect if compare to the remaining diseases. It has no serious effect on the mother and the unborn
baby. It normally lasts for 6 weeks and stop a few days after delivery. Treatment includes mild to potent corticosteroids and antihistamines. Oils bath and emollients are other alternatives for treating pruritic urticarial plaque. Relief with antihistamine and corticosteroid is seen normally 24 to 72 hours of treatment (source2).

And for the herpes gestationis, treatment with oral histamines and topical corticosteroid was found to
work effectively in reducing blister formation and itching. Other symptoms require systematic steroids such as prednisone. This will prevent itching and burning that may occur during delivery. (Source)

Atopic eruption of pregnancy can also be treated with topical corticosteroid for several days to reduce skin lesion. In severe cases, systematic corticosteroid and antihistamines can be administered (source).

Frequently Asked Questions About Skin Rashes During Pregnancy

what Is PUPPP?

PUPPP is a short form of Pruritic Urticarial Plaques of Pregnancy Papules commonly known as polymorphic eruption of pregnancy. As discussed earlier, this is a skin condition that normally develops along the stretch marks on your abdomen or stomach during the last stage of pregnancy.

What Causes PUPPP?

The risk factors responsible for the development of PUPPP is rapid, excessive weight gain and  
multiples gestation pregnancy. It was believed that the frequent stretching and distension of skin 
around the abdomen is the one responsible for inflammatory reactions, which is as a result of damage in collagen tissues or connective tissues, which leads to urticarial or hive-like lesions.

Can PUPPP Hurt The Body?

PUPPP was found not be dangerous to both the baby and his mother. It might be possible to notice 
some changes after delivery or the baby could be born with a mild form of PUPPP rash. But in most cases, PUPPP cannot cause any medical complications.

Can You Get PUPPPS Twice?

PUPPP is experience during pregnancy, and it is caused by rapid and excessive stretching of skin around the abdomen. So, PUPPP may develop twice or more during the lifetime of your pregnancy.
And study showed that PUPPP can’t be predicted and there is nothing you can do to prevent it. 
Though, it can be manageable from mild to very severe, and normally lasts after pregnancy.

Can PUPPP Go Away Before?

PUPPP normally goes away on its own after one week of delivery but it can also go away anywhere 
from week before delivery to up to 6 weeks after pregnancy.

Does PUPPP Rash Spread?

PUPPP rash can spread to your hands, legs, arms and is rarely seen on face, palms, and soles. It 
causes itchy skin.

How Fast Does PUPPP Spread?

PUPPP ( pruritic urticarial plaques of pregnancy papules)  is an itchy rash that spreads fast to the 
extremities of body such as hands, and legs. It normally last for about six weeks before delivery and 
resolves on its own one to two weeks after pregnancy

What Is Prurigo Of Pregnancy?

Prurigo of pregnancy is a nondefective or benign non-specific itchy rash that develops during 
pregnancy.  This skin disease condition ( prurigo of pregnancy) has been described using different 
names like prurigo gestitionis , papular dermatitis of pregnancy, pruritic folliculitis of pregnancy.

What Does Prurrigo Of Pregnancy Look Like?

Prurigo of pregnancy or prurigo gestitionis can be described with an itchy rash that looks like an insect bite. 

Prurigo Of Pregnancy normally develops few bumps, and thin blisters also follow. The skin disease condition usually affects areas of the body like stretches of the abdomen.

What Causes Skin Rashes During Pregnancy?

The most common skin disease that causes skin rashes during pregnancy are phemphigoid gestitionis, pruritic urticarial plaque of pregnancy papules, and intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy. The itchy rashes you are experiencing are due to changes in hormone levels, immune system and metabolism brought about by the pregnancy.

How Do You Treat Rashes During Pregnancy?

The over-the-counter medications that were found to work effectively are corticosteroids, antihistamines, and organic moisturizers.

Can A Rash During Pregnancy Harm Baby?

Skin rashes of pregnancy such as phemphigoid gestationis and intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy can be harmful to both the mother and her baby. The skin disease that normally affects women with less or no effect on the mother and her baby is Pruritic urticarial plaque of pregnancy papules.

What Causes Itchy Body During Pregnancy?

Pruritis or severe itching is one of the most common skin disease during pregnancy, and is caused by changes in the immune system and hormones levels. A common skin condition that is responsible for this type of skin condition is intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy ( This is a skin condition caused by the suppression of bile flow).

What Is Severe Itching In Pregnancy?

Women do experience very severe itching or pruritis in or during pregnancy. The most common skin disease that is responsible for this severe itching is called intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, which is a skin disease during pregnancy where the normal bile flow is suppressed by the increased amounts of hormones.

What Causes Itchy Legs During Pregnancy?

The most common skin disease condition which causes itchy legs is intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, which normally affects limbs, abdomen and back with intense itching.


We hope that this post was of excellent help for you in understanding the causes, symptoms and 
treatments of skin rashes during pregnancy.

We would love listening to your views about the causes and treatments of skin rashes during 

So, do write to us in the comment section below.


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