Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Itch Report

To all who made recommendations for treating poison ivy, my grateful thanks. I'm sorry to report that the Zanfel didn't do anything for my case except to pop the innumerable sensitive blisters on my forearm. On the other hand, my 11yo, who used it on her face, cleared up very quickly.

The poison ivy on my arms lingered on for another month. Finally I went to the urgent care and was given a prescription for a steroid cream, Benedryl, and Pepcid. (Something about Pepcid is supposed to disrupt the poison ivy? I didn't find that it worked all that well.) Everyone knows that oral steroids are the fastest way to clear up poison ivy, but they're also a class D drug in pregnancy, and certainly counterindicated for someone as far along as I am. Like I need baby getting any bigger!

The cream didn't work much better than a placebo, to be honest, and the patches on my arm looked like I'd been badly burned. I eventually switched from the steroid cream to a scar cream to try to mitigate the permanent damage. Now, seven weeks later, I'm finally healing up. My blotches are still visible, but much milder and smaller than they were. Much as having a body wears me out, it's remarkable to watch it healing itself from the edges in. The texture of the skin is creeping back to normal, even if it's still sensitive and itchy when brushed.

All well and good, but then, as the poison ivy was first showing signs of healing, I broke out in itchy spots elsewhere: stomach, upper arms, the backs of my thighs. This itch, friends, was misery. I still have a scab on my shin where I scratched the skin off in a frenzy. I laid awake at night, rotating through the inventory of scratching, wondering what on earth was going on. It wasn't poison ivy anymore. This was something new, and unfair, I thought, considering that I'd just been through one iteration of itch.

One day my daughter wanted to see what the baby looked like, so I pulled up a pregnancy website and read about 34 weeks. After we cooed over the baby image, I read down the rest of the page and came to: 
If you notice itchy red bumps or welts on your belly, and possibly your thighs and buttocks as well, you may have a condition called pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP for short). 
Up to 1 percent of pregnant women develop PUPPP, which is harmless but can be quite uncomfortable. See your healthcare provider so she can make sure it's not a more serious problem, provide treatment to make you more comfortable, and refer you to a dermatologist if necessary. Also be sure to call her if you feel intense itchiness all over your body, even if you don't have a rash. It could signal a liver problem.
I consulted Dr. Wikipedia and did a little self-diagnosing. 
Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP), known in United Kingdom as polymorphic eruption of pregnancy (PEP),[1] is a chronic hives-like rash that strikes some women during pregnancy. Although extremely annoying for its sufferers (because of the itch), it presents no long-term risk for either the mother or unborn child. PUPPP frequently begins on the abdomen and spreads to the legs, feet, arms, chest, and neck.[2] 
Papules and plaques usually start appearing on the abdomen (although not on the umbilicus/bellybutton) and often spreads to the legs, chest, underarms, etc. The face is usually also spared and does not seem to become affected. 
Skin distension (stretching) is a common factor in PUPPP, which is more common in mothers with large fundal measurements and/or those who are carrying large babies, twins, and triplets. The papules and plaques often first appear within stretch marks.
Certain studies reveal that this condition is more frequent in women carrying boys, although no formal research has been conducted. Statistics cite that 70% of PUPPP sufferers deliver boys. Some researchers think it has to do with male DNA interacting with the mother's body causing irritation. 
PUPPP's occurs in about 1 in every 200 pregnancies and is not always easy to diagnose.
My children are delighted to think that I may be carrying twins or triplets (dream on, kids).

When I next went to my OB, I mentioned it, and had my self-diagnosis confirmed, every internet researcher's dream. My many friends who sell essential oils will be glad to know that the OB said that the only thing he'd ever heard of that helped the PUPPP itch was lavender oil (properly diluted), and that I've already acquired some lavender oil, but thanks anyway. And it does seem to work! I slather myself up each evening, and my itchiness is generally appeased.

I'm beginning to think, though, that we should just name baby Spot.


Emily said...

I know a couple of ladies who've had PUPPP. (Why have they not come up with a shorter handle for it by now???) It sounds miserable. I'm glad you found a little relief in the lavendar oil, plus you get to smell delicious! I had intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) with my twins. The itching was straight from Hell, and there is nothing that can be done to lessen it save delivery. So I know a little bit about being as large as a hippo and itching all over. I feel for you.

How about Itchy Spot?

Anonymous said...

My wife had PUPPPs with our first child; the biggest issue was when she couldn't get to sleep late in the pregnancy because it itched too much—and her constant scratching kept me up, too. It ended up being why we went in for an induction, because she just couldn't stand it. And within a couple of hours of delivery, it went away entirely.

It's no fun at all :(

Finicky Cat said...

Spot! HA!

As for PUPPP and poison ivy - good heavens! I've never had a run-in with either one; never even heard of PUPPP. Frankly they both sound like something out of an apocalyptic sci fi story. Hang in there!