The second trimester of pregnancy was glorious. I was student-teaching at the time and was teaching my third graders with enthusiasm and energy. I could still walk at a fast pace up two flights of stairs. Glowing skin, soft hair, feel-good hormones… it almost makes me want to be pregnant again. Almost.
Then all of a sudden the third trimester grabbed me like a hook on a cartoon stage, pulling me away from the glory and into the dark countdown to labor. It all started with a mysterious rash. A week or two into the third trimester, my stomach began to itch like crazy.
“It’s totally normal,” well-meaning friends would tell me. “It’s just your stomach stretching.”
It didn’t feel normal at all. My stomach was unbearably itchy, and no matter how much I scratched or how much lotion I caked on it, it would not disappear. Then the unexpected happened. Little red bumps began to appear in my stretchmarks. First on my stomach, then on my legs. The rash quickly spread like a storm surge across my arms, buttocks, and hips. The same well-meaning friends from before chalked it up to hormones and suggested a few helpful products. I tried cocoa butter, lotions, hydro-cortisone cream, and calendula oil, but the rash only got worse. Antihistamines barely took the edge off and I was at my wit’s end. I was waking up with blood on my skin from scratching in my sleep, and it felt if I scratched any harder that I’d be scratching my baby’s itches as well.
Finally, I dragged my Benadryl-saturated self into the OBYGYN’s office, desperate for relief.
“You’re lucky, the last woman who came in here with this had taken a grill brush to her legs,” my doctor told me. She had diagnosed the rash as PUPPs, or Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy. That seems to be a fancy name for a rare condition in which the body hates being pregnant so much that it decides to break out in the itchiest bumps known to mankind. Doctors can only theorize that it is hormone-induced but they are still unsure. To top it all off, giving birth is the only known cure. My kind OBYGYN sent me home with prescribed antibiotics and suggested the possibility of steroid injections at my next appointment to prevent my skin from being destroyed. This was less than ideal for me. I wanted to avoid medication at all costs and I could by no means wait several more months for this to go away. So I quickly began to do research and stumbled across the savior of my skin.
The skeptic in me wanted to laugh and keep scrolling past the suggestion and onto something believable. Surely this was just a marketing technique set to prey on desperate, itchy pregnant women. But I was incredibly desperate, and I really wanted to avoid steroid injections, so I ordered a bar of the soap on Amazon and waited. When the box arrived at the front door, I quickly unpackaged it and jumped into the shower, feeling skeptical. It smelled a lot like a strange campfire- more manly than feminine, but I didn’t care. I lathered it over the entire rash. And it worked a miracle. Within a day, I was seeing serious improvement. My skin was not only less itchy, but the rash was going away! Within two weeks, the rash was completely gone. If I washed with regular soap, the PUPPS came back with a vengeance, but as long as I continued washing with it with lukewarm water and rinsing with cool water, my skin stayed clear. After my daughter was born, I switched back to my old soap and everything was right as rain.
If you have the same misfortune of dealing with PUPPS, there is hope. Buy one of Grandpa’s Pine Tar soaps. Get into a lukewarm shower. Work the soap into a lather. Thoroughly massage it into rash-affected areas. Rinse with cool water. Repeat. That’s it, mamas. No medicated creams. No steroid shots. All natural.
Share with your friends and let us know if this works for you or has worked for you in the past!