Rashes During Pregnancy: The Three Most Common Types

rashes during pregnancy

Is there one thing about your body that doesn’t seem to change with pregnancy? While your stomach is getting bigger, joints are getting looser, and legs getting more swollen, it’s not uncommon to experience skin changes and rashes that you may have never experienced before. While most are perfectly harmless and a sign of your fluctuating hormones and growing belly, others may be more cause for concern.

Prurigo of Pregnancy

This generally harmless rash type usually occurs in the second and/or third trimesters of pregnancy. A woman will often notice a group of lesions, usually on the legs, but they may be on the arms. The lesions are often extremely itchy and may even be blistered in appearance.

See Your Doctor? Because the symptoms of prurigo of pregnancy can mimic a more serious condition known as cholestasis of pregnancy, it’s best to see your doctor about this rash type.     Avoid scratching the lesions whenever possible to keep your symptoms from worsening.

Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy (PUPPP)

This itchy rash usually develops on stretch marks that can develop on the stomach due to stretching of the skin during pregnancy (Click here for our tips for stretch mark treatments during pregnancy). First-time moms and mothers who are carrying multiple babies are more likely to have PUPPP rashes. This rash usually occurs in the third trimester when the skin is most stretched. The rash isn’t harmful to your baby, but it can get very annoying and irritating for you.

See Your Doctor? This rash is usually not harmful – only annoying. You can try anti-itch remedies, such as applying cold compresses and aloe vera gel to your stomach. However, if the itching becomes very intense, you may want to call your doctor.

Impetigo Herpetiformis

This condition is a rare form of psoriasis that can occur in the second half of a woman’s pregnancy. The rash causes pustules to develop on the skin. They usually aren’t itchy, but a woman may have cold-like symptoms along with the rash, such as fever and chills. If a woman has had the condition once, she’s likely to get it again in another pregnancy.

Considerations About Skin Conditions and Pregnancy

Pregnancy can worsen some skin conditions (like atopic dermatitis/skin sensitivity) in pregnancy. Some skin conditions, such as psoriasis, often improve during pregnancy.

Also, pregnancy is a time when medications you used to take and/or put on your skin can’t always be used. An example when it comes to a rash is hydrocortisone cream. While the cream can likely be applied in small quantities, it’s best to check with your obstetrician first to ensure doing so would be safe for your pregnancy.

Some methods you can use to relieve a rash during pregnancy is taking a warm (but not hot) oatmeal bath. You can also regularly apply moisturizers that contain skin-softening ingredients like vitamin E and cocoa butter or apply an anti-itch cream that isn’t harmful to your baby, such as calamine lotion.