Just some of the more recent phrases I’ve searched for on Google. In fact, if you saw my search history you would unearth a plethora of disturbing images of various types of rashes as I attempt to self-diagnose what this godforsaken stupid itching is all about.
It started around eight weeks ago, with just a slight rash on the small of my back. It was spotty and itchy as hell. I put it down to the fact that maternity clothes come up much higher than my usual attire and honestly thought it was a heat rash contracted through wearing bump bands, layered with jersey tops and cardigans.
This photo has been taken more recently when the rash has lessened a bit, believe it or not.
The rash then spread to my legs. No biggie, I thought. I had suffered with Eczema as a child and occasionally have break outs when I’m stressed. Having already moved house this year, being pregnant, having a three-year-old to look after and being a full time working mummy – I figured a bit of stress rash was the least of my worries.
I mentioned it to my midwife during a routine visit. Neither of us was overly concerned. We decided the best course of action was Sudocrem and/or E45 and keeping an eye on it. If it didn’t clear up then a visit to the GP would be in order.
A couple of weeks later I was with the midwife again. The rash had got worse and I had literally scratched my legs to pieces. She winced as I showed her. The problem was the itching was far worse at night, which meant I was tearing my legs to pieces in the wee small hours and literally waking up in a scabby blood bath. Eugh! Even though we didn’t think it was obstetric cholestasis, she decided to send me for a blood test just to rule this out and suggested I make an appointment with the GP.
A couple of days later I was showing my rash to a sympathetic, but clueless, female GP. Her take on it? “Often, women develop rashes during pregnancy and we don’t really know why.” After some deliberation she decided to prescribe me a mild steroid cream and suggested I keep slathering myself with E45. If the rash didn’t get better I was to return in two weeks and she would take another look.
I tried the E45, I tried the twice daily application of steroid cream. At first I thought I saw some improvement, but I was mistaken and the itching was back to being as intense as it had ever been.
Some research via Dr Google suggested it might be something called PUPPS (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy) or PEP (polymorphic eruption of pregnancy) rash. A reasonably unexplained rash that appears (usually) during the third trimester of pregnancy. It is irritatingly more itchy at night and more common in women who are carrying boys, or multiple babies. I ticked two out of the three boxes. It seemed strange that I didn’t have this with my first pregnancy, but maybe I just had the time to take better care of myself then so that my body could fight it? Whatever ‘it’ was. There’s no clear definition of what causes PUPPS or PEP. Very little medical research can be carried out on pregnant ladies for fear of damaging the unborn baby. Theories suggest the rash is caused by the baby’s DNA getting into your system, a surge in hormones, or issues with your liver. But there’s no hard and fast answer. Fortunately there are plenty of anecdotal remedies from people who have also suffered, poor things.
A return visit to the doctor and I was put on anti-biotics, they seemed to take some of the anger out of the rash (my legs were beginning to swell) but didn’t get rid of the itching, nor the unattractive rash. The doctor agreed that the rash ‘could be’ PUPPS or PEP. Thankfully the test results for obstetric cholestasis had come back clear.
I’ll do a separate post on the various lotions, potions and other remedies that I’ve used to try to free myself from this rash, in the hope that my research might help someone else. But I just wanted to jump on the blog and let you know that’s why I’ve been AWOL of late. As an update the rash is now on the tops of my feet, my calves and thighs, my buttocks, the small of my back, my shoulders, arms, stomach and breasts.
It seems OTT To say that a rash is debilitating, but this one really is. When the itch comes it is overwhelming, to the point where I was (and sometimes still am) going around with my jaw clenched and my shoulders hunched. It’s worse at night which totally interrupts my sleep. Often I will find myself wide awake at 4am slathering my hands in lotion in a bid to stop the itching. It’s also really unattractive. I feel like I need to cover the rash as, well I wouldn’t want to sit next to me. One person did say to me, ‘well it could be worse, you could be laying in a hospital bed’. True fact. But, to quote Tati on her James Charles dispute: the fact that the person next to you is in a full body cast doesn’t make your broken arm any less painful. This rash really has been psychologically draining, exhausting (one night I rubbed cream on myself for three hours straight), expensive and just bloody itchy, itchy, itchy. I would not wish this on anyone.
And, so that’s where I’ve been. I haven’t much been in the mood for blogging, vlogging or anything else and haven’t really wanted to add photos of myself onto the web as I look like I have measles. However, now I’m on week two of my annual leave ahead of my maternity officially starting on Monday I figured it was time to update you all. Then, at least you will understand why virtually every photo of me will have a tub of E45 in the background for the foreseeable future. As for the search history, I still keep thinking there must be more to this rash than simply ‘pregnancy related’ but it seems there isn’t.
If you are experiencing severe itching during pregnancy please consult a medical professional.
Thanks for stopping by,