Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Feeling Itchy?!

By: April Miller


Have you been feeling itchy lately, I mean really itchy? Perhaps you have been floating through your pregnancy with nothing but joy in your heart and a rather large basketball looking belly. All of a sudden you find that the sides of your fingers itch, then your tummy. You look closer and realize that there are bumps that look uncannily-like bug bites on your skin. These, then, spread across your arms, down your legs, and maybe even up your neck. Before long you find yourself scratching and praying. If you are anything like me you may loose sleep, become depressed, tear at your skin with miscellaneous objects, or even wish to harm yourself. Welcome to the world of P.U.P.P.

P.U.P.P. What does that spell? For 1% of all pregnant women it could spell misery. If you have got an itch (and I'm not referring to the anxiousness over the arrival of your bundle of joy) this could include you. P.U.P.P. stands for pruritic urticarial papules plaques which is just a fancy, scientific term for an irritating rash that pregnant women sometimes acquire. If you have this rash during your present pregnancy you will be likely to have it in any recurring pregnancy as well. You can find lots of other helpful information about P.U.P.P. on the web. I found mine on WebMD. (This is just one of those many reasons the internet is such an invaluable tool)

Many doctors are not well educated on P.U.P.P. simply because it is such a rarity. I still remember showing my doctor this Mystery rash! I had suffered for a month before my scheduled doctor's appointment and was smart enough to enlist the help of the internet for information before I went. When the doctor finally saw me I described my symptoms to him and he examined me carefully, only to say, "yup, that is a rash, what do you think it is?" When I shared with him the information I had he was very intrigued. Then when he told me he had heard of P.U.P.P. before, his voice was full of wonder! That was all it took for me to take matters into my own hands, and let me tell you that there is hope.

You can try home remedies but I wouldn't advise them, it is best to treat serious conditions under medical supervision. One of the first things you can do is to try topical treatments. Vitamin E oil, for example, can soothe your skin. Other creams such as Psoriasis cream and Cortaid can help control the itch. You may even ask your doctor about a topical prescription. Should all of these fail to help there are some prescription drugs you can try. Your doctor can prescribe a wealth of antihistamines to help control some of the itching. Personally, I had to try two before I found some relief in Zyrtec. An antihistamine is usually the best solution to P.U.P.P., but there are some other things you can do that will help.

If you are becoming depressed and even having harmful thoughts you should seek professional help. My doctor, for instance, was able to prescribe me a couple of anti-depressants as well as a sleep aid. You can also get therapy either in a group setting or by one of the numerous pregnancy hotlines. Whatever you do it is always important to keep as positive a state of mind as possible and to surround yourself with positive people. In fact, you may even want to set up a watch or support system of people who will be there during your breakdowns. Remember that you are loved by your family and friends and that they are there for you.

Pregnancy should be a beautiful, joyous time for you, and it may seem unfair to be susceptible to P.U.P.P. Just remember there are ways of coping with this terrible rash. Do your research and understand your condition. Talk to your doctor. There are many things you can try when you work together as a team. Be active in your recovery. Do things to ensure your health mentally as well as physically. Finally, never give up. Remember that your suffering will end shortly after delivery of your beautiful new child, and believe me, it is worth it!

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