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Pregnancy-Related Skin Conditions: What to Watch for When Expecting

Pregnancy Related Skin Condition

If you are expecting a child or plan to become pregnant, then be aware of the skin changes that can occur during pregnancy. Read on to learn about three particular skin conditions that some women develop during pregnancy, their signs, and methods of treatment.


While some women get lucky and do not develop stretch marks on their stomachs during pregnancy, many women do. Some women who develop stretch marks also develop a skin rash called Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy (PUPPP). This condition can occur only on the skin affected by stretch marks or start in stretch marks then spread to other areas of the body. 

This rash typically occurs during the third trimester of pregnancy due to the rapid stretching of skin that occurs alongside your baby’s rapid growth during this trimester. The hallmark signs of a PUPPP rash are small pink spots that gradually turn into raised red patches of skin called plaques. 

PUPPP rash can feel extremely itchy. However, it thankfully does not pose a hazard to you or your unborn child and typically resolves shortly after childbirth. PUPPP itching can be controlled at home with cool compresses and application of moisturizers that contain soothing ingredients, such as colloidal oatmeal.

However, if itching becomes too severe, then your dermatologist may recommend a topical corticosteroid cream or antihistamine to help soothe the itch. 

Prurigo of Pregnancy

Prurigo of pregnancy, also called papular dermatitis of pregnancy, is slightly less common than PUPPP. You can experience this rash during your second or third trimester of pregnancy, whether you develop stretch marks on your body or not. This rash consists of small pink or purple spots that may be scaly and thick. These spots can occur on your stomach, back, arms, and legs, although they sometimes also develop on the face.  

Like PUPPP, this rash can become very itchy, but it is not known to negatively affect a mother or unborn child in any other way. Prurigo of pregnancy can resolve shortly after childbirth or it can linger for several months postpartum. 

Like PUPPP rash, obtaining a proper diagnosis is important to rule out other, more serious skin conditions. While carefully managed home care can ease itching, severe cases can require prescription corticosteroids in pill or cream form.

Impetigo Herpetiformis

While relatively rare, impetigo herpetiformis, also known as pustular psoriasis of pregnancy, is a very hazardous skin condition that can develop during pregnancy. Surprisingly, it can occur in women who never experience psoriasis outbreaks outside of pregnancy. Like many other pregnancy rashes, this condition typically occurs during late pregnancy, especially during the third trimester. 

Impetigo herpetiformis often appears as large, scaly patches on the skin that are pink in color. These patches may first develop on areas of the body where skin meets skin, such as under the breasts, then spread to the rest of the body. 

Unlike PUPPP and prurigo of pregnancy, this rash can be life-threatening to a mother and unborn child if not properly treated. This rash is just one symptom of an inflammatory condition that can cause vomiting and diarrhea that can lead to severe electrolyte imbalances and nutritional deficiencies if left untreated. The faster the skin condition is controlled, the better the outcome for mother and child. 

Thankfully, there are many medications that can be used to manage severe cases of impetigo herpetiformis. Medications used to treat this condition include oral corticosteroids, biologics, immunosuppressant medications, and phototherapy. 

If you are pregnant or hope to have a child in the future, then be sure to watch for the signs of any unusual skin changes during pregnancy and obtain a proper diagnosis of any skin condition you do develop to help preserve the health of you and your baby. Contact Carolina Dermatology and Skin Surgery, PLLC to schedule a skin exam today.

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