How to manage PUPPPs rash in pregnancy

Have you heard of PUPPPs rash? Let’s talk about it. Pregnancy does some crazy things to our bodies, right? And no two pregnancies are the same, either.

When I was pregnant with my son, from about 10 weeks on, I had numbness in my thumb, index, and middle fingers of both hands. The numbness did not subside until after he was born.

This time around, I got a pregnancy rash. After consulting with my doctor, she said that it was likely a PUPPPs rash. PUPPPs is short for pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy. And it’s one of those conditions that you’d likely only ever wish on your worst enemy. It’s terrible.

What is PUPPPs rash?

When the rash first started, it was a small patch on my lower abdomen. I thought that with the weather warming up, it was simply a heat rash of some sort. But then, the rash started to spread. It spread around my abdomen, my lower back, my upper arms, my legs. Basically, it spread to all the worst places.

After some Googling (note: don’t Google images of rashes unless you’re mentally prepared), I discovered PUPPPs. However, most of the information online suggested that the condition showed up during the third trimester and would go away after the baby was born. I was only 18 weeks along at that point, and could not fathom 22 more weeks of the terrible rash! After my doctor agreed that it was likely PUPPPs, I was bound and determined to find a way to get rid of it.

How to manage PUPPPs rash

My doctor told me that I could take Benadryl and use Cortisone to manage the rash. She referred me to a dermatologist if the rash got worse. After trying both, and not much happening, I knew I needed to find a way to manage the rash if I was going to have to deal with it until delivery.

During my deep Google dive about PUPPPs rash, I found anecdotal posts from other pregnant women who shared their stories on managing their rashes. Stories of getting the rash as early as seven weeks, to one woman experiencing PUPPPs with each of her six pregnancies!

Based on my personal experience, my PUPPPs rash was managable and even cleared up before the baby’s delivery. PUPPPs rash is very itchy and very annoying. The good news is that it is not harmful to the baby. Be sure to consult your doctor or midwife to rule out cholestasis, which is dangerous to the baby.

Clearing up PUPPPs rash takes patience and perseverance. It’s not an overnight cure. My rash took about four weeks to clear up from the time that I started to really take steps to manage it. I took Benadryl for the first two weeks before bed to help with the nighttime itching. Also, I used up nearly three tubes of extra strength Cortisone cream to help with the itching. I tried lavender and peppermint essential oils. All these remedies provided minimal relief, and no signs of clearing up the rash.

It wasn’t until I took a natural approach, healing from the inside out, that I really started to see improvement with my rashes.

Natural PUPPs Rash Remedies

I’m happy to report that my PUPPPs rash has cleared up. It lasted for nearly six weeks from beginning to its disappearance. I can’t say with full confidence that any or all of these natural remedies will work for your PUPPPs rash, but considering how irritating and inconvenient the rash is, it might be worth a shot to try one or all of these remedies.

Pine tar soap. This is probably the most-recommended PUPPPs relief remedy. You can find Grandpa’s Pine Tar Soap brand on Amazon or at Sprouts. I do have to warn you that it smells like a campfire, but the smell dissipates over time. The recommendation is to suds up the soap, then spread the soap suds over your rashes. Let the suds sit on your skin for at least five minutes, 10 is better. Rinse off with cool water. I did this about three-to-four times a day (usually after waking up in the morning, during nap time, and before bed) and eventually decreased to once a day.

Lukewarm baking soda baths. Most general “rash advice” suggests taking oatmeal baths. I found this to be ineffective. One of the anecdotal posts I found talked about lukewarm baking soda baths. I found relief by soaking in about one cup of baking soda in a bathtub for about 30-45 minutes. I took it as a good excuse to watch something on Netflix.

Black cherry juice. I know, this seems totally random. However, I feel like this was one remedy that really had an impact on my rash. I’m not sure what all black cherry juice contains that makes it effective with this rash, but I drank an 8-ounce glass daily for about five weeks. I found black cherry juice at Kroger in the natural foods section under the Simple Truth brand.

Liver-friendly smoothies. While PUPPPs rash cause is undetermined, there is a theory that it could be related to liver function. Again, I thought there’s no harm in drinking a fruit smoothie, so I gave it a try. I drank one smoothie a day for about two weeks, and then one smoothie every other day or so.

Liver-Friendly Smoothie Recipe

  • 1 banana
  • 1 packet frozen Pitaya Dragonfruit (found at Kroger and Sprouts)
  • 1/2-1 cup frozen wild blueberries (available at Sprouts)
  • 1 cup additional fruit of choice (I chose frozen mango)
  • 1.5 cups water
  • Blend. Add water if too thick. Blend and enjoy.

Cutting dairy and refined sugars. Leading up to getting the rash, I was indulging more than usual dairy (hello, cheese, and ice cream!) and sweets (hello, cookies, and cake!) than usual, thanks a lot COVID-19 pandemic and stress baking. I cut my cheese consumption and switched to non-dairy ice cream, and removing these foods seemed to help ease the symptoms.

I hope that if you’re pregnant, you never have to experience PUPPPs rash. But if you’re one of the “lucky” ones, I hope that one or a few of these remedies help to calm your symptoms or clear the rash up completely!

Catie Wood
Catie is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, went to college in San Diego, and moved to North Texas after getting married in 2009. They have lived in Collin County since 2017 and welcomed their son to the world in 2018. She likes to call herself a "naptime entrepreneur" working during her toddler's naps as a personal branding photographer - creating visual content and branded images for creative entrepreneurs and small business owners. In her limited spare time, you'll find her reading a mix of fiction, parenting, and business books, daydreaming about traveling to Europe, giving some attention to their dachshund named Kevin, and watching classics on Disney+ with her husband.