When I was pregnant with my daughter, I developed horribly itchy spots all over my body. I had patches of rough, unbearably itchy skin that persisted for weeks. I’d had mild eczema my whole life, but these symptoms were so intense that I thought they must have been related to some other condition. After talking to my doctor, I found out that pregnancy tends to exacerbate preexisting conditions that can cause skin rashes, and that hormonal fluctuations and stress had simply caused a severe outbreak of eczema.
Although my rash during pregnancy was caused by eczema, are many other potential causes of similar symptoms. Here are some of the possible causes of rashes during pregnancy.
Some pregnant women become more susceptible to allergies than before, according to my doctor. This can make expectant moms especially prone to hives and dermatitis. These conditions are caused by allergic reactions and tend to be very itchy. Especially during allergy season, you might notice more allergy symptoms manifesting on your skin.
Hormonal changes and stress can make expectant moms more prone to fungal infections like ringworm and skin yeast. You might notice flaking, itchy skin on your scalp (dandruff) or under your toes (athlete’s foot). These conditions are caused by fungi that overgrow on the skin and cause itchy, uncomfortable rashes. Although fungal infections are rarely serious, it’s important to get them examined and treated, especially during pregnancy.
Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy
Try saying that ten times fast! This condition affects roughly 1 in 150 women and causes intensely itchy rashes. They generally begin in the stretch marks surrounding the belly button and then spread elsewhere on the body, including the thighs and legs. Although no one knows what causes PUPPP, some scientists believe that fetal cells invading the mother’s skin tissue are to blame.
During pregnancy, a woman’s immune system may become compromised, making her body more susceptible to viral infections. Shingles occurs when the chicken pox virus, which most women acquire long before pregnancy, returns by taking advantage of her weakened immunity. This causes an often painful or itchy rash, usually accompanied by other symptoms such as nerve pain and severe fatigue.
Acne is extremely common during pregnancy because of hormonal changes associated with gestation. Because it can be so severe and painful compared to “ordinary” acne, it might be virtually unrecognizable. I remember developing acne on my face and back during pregnancy that I initially didn’t recognize as acne. Consider this one possibility if you are experiencing itchy rashes during pregnancy.
Several other, less common conditions might also cause rashes during pregnancy. Some are related directly to the pregnancy, while others occur just as frequently in pregnant women. Although most causes of rashes during pregnancy are ultimately benign and easily managed, others warrant medical insight and support. If you are experiencing an unexplained rash during pregnancy that does not resolve quickly, talk to your prenatal health care provider for diagnosis and treatment.