Skin Rashes in Pregnancy

Certain conditions can cause skin rashes in pregnancy to flare up, such as acne, allergies, and dermatitis. Strangely enough eczema can often improve while you are pregnant. However, it is known that certain women to develop allergies while they’re pregnant and these can have an affect on your skin. There are some skin conditions specific to pregnancy that could be caused by an autoimmune response or have an allergy based cause.

Papular dermatitis

This is a pregnancy specific skin problem that usually disappears shortly after childbirth. It is an extremely irritating rash, red in colour, and resembles a mosquito bite. It can occur all over the body and some spots can become scabby.

Pruritic Urticarial Papules of Pregnancy – PUPP

puppThis is very itchy, often quite severe, and unfortunately the most common rash in pregnancy. Luckily it does not affect the face, and usually starts around the tummy area, spreading to the buttocks, legs and arms. The spots can be quite large and raised. It can become quite a problem even leading to early induction as it interrupts sleep and can lead to an exhausted state. The good news is that it does not present any serious health risks to either the mother or the child and clears up after delivery.

Herpes gestationis

This can affect both mother and child but usually clears up following birth. In appearance it resembles chickenpox. The skin can be riddled with irritating pustules and blisters. It can cause fever and in serious cases needs to be treated in hospital. Fortunately it is a very rare disease and is not connected to the viral herpes simplex.

Prurigo of Pregnancy

This tends to affect women that have a family history of dermititis. Its causes red itchy rashes and small pimples that can bleed and weep. It can appear on the legs, arms, and abdomen and especially in areas where you have stretch marks. There is a possibility that it can deteriorate following birth but it usually resolves itself after a couple of months. Luckily it does not cause any harm to the baby.

Skin Changes During Pregnancy

Some women suffer from uncomfortable changes in their skin during pregnancy, including oily skin, dryness, skin rashes and even acne. As your baby grows, your skin stretches and sebacious glands produce natural oils in greater amounts. Your sweat glands also become more active as your body temperature rises due to your increased metabolic activity. Your skin can also darken or change colour.

On the plus side, many women’s skin actually improves a great deal during pregnancy but for those who are concerned about rashes and other irritations, then it’s best to understand exactly what is going on with your body to be able to remedy the situation. Nutrition plays a vital role in healthy skin. Essential oils combined with massage can also help.

Skin rashes in pregnancy can occur due to increased blood volume. This can lead to blood vessels becoming visible underneath the skin as red spots or flushes. This can occur in the face or in the stomach area. You may also can see the appearance of red streaks around the breasts, tummy and buttocks. Some other common skin problems during pregnancy are:


This can cause rashes and other irritations when the sebaceous glands enlarge and get blocked up by oil in the skin. You produce a lot more testosterone when you’re pregnant and this can lead to an increase in the production of oils. Some acne medications cannot be used in pregnancy such as the retinoid based creams. It’s best to use a safe body wash solution instead and optimise your diet for skin health.

vitamin e creamDry skin rashes

This could be a sign of dehydration and a vitamin E deficiency. The solution is to drink lots of water and use an organic vitamin E moisturiser.

Itchy and irritating skin rashes

This problem can often manifest as a skin rash on the abdomen during pregnancy. It usually gets worse towards the last couple of months. If you are very itchy but have no rash it could be a sign of cholestasis which is a very rare skin condition and would need to be looked at by a Physician.

Stretch marks

These are not strictly speaking rashes but can look like them. During the later stages of pregnancy there is a loss of elastin fibers and an increase in the production of collagen. This leads to the classic stretch mark. These tend to disappear after birth over the course of the next six months. They can be made worse if your skin is dry and you gain weight very quickly. The best remedy is a combination of natural cleansing body wash, and naturally occurring oils such as coconut. These help retain skin moisture and along with massage can stimulate new skin growth.

Skin Rashes in Pregnancy Caused by Infection

The main culprits are rubella, toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus and parvvovirus. All these infections can cause rashes in pregnancy. If you notice rashes on your nipples following birth, this could mean you have Candida, a fungal infection, that can cause nappy rash and a sore mouth. Sexually transmitted infections can also cause skin rashes. All of these various causes should be spoken about with your Physician who can then appropriately prescribe.

Medication for Skin Rashes

If you feel very itchy but cannot see any rashes it is still very important to consult your doctor because this could be a sign of cholestasis which can harm your baby.

Doctors often prescribe emollients to stop the skin dehydrating.

Cortisone can be used in skin creams in the case of severe rashes. Although this is potentially dangerous for your baby, very little of it enters the bloodstream and it is usually only prescribed in small concentrations. In extreme cases steroids can be used under medical supervision.

Tips for Reducing Skin Rashes and Itching

Dehydration is one of the major causes of skin rashes in pregnancy so it is important to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. In addition to hydrating yourself sufficiently, try to avoid junk foods and possibly dairy products which are known to cause skin problems in some women. You will usually find that overall skin quality improves when adding whole grains and green leafy vegetables to your diet. It can even clear up acne.

Although you should exercise, it is important not to overheat or expose yourself to dry air environments. Centrally heated and air conditioned buildings can have very dry air which can irritate the skin. If you need to heat your house then try using a humidifier or a vapouriser. Always ensure plenty of air flow as well.

aloe-vera-moisturizing-creamThere are various herbal and plant based oils and lotions that you can use to soothe itchy skin, such as Aloe Vera and Calamine lotion.

Allergic skin rashes could be a result of chemicals in your washing powder. These are obviously next to your skin all day and all night, being present in your clothes and bed sheets. Try to find a hypo allergenic washing powder and switch from artificial fibres to cotton if possible.