PUPP rash in pregnancy: Which foods to avoid

Javeria Adenwalla

Javeria Adenwalla

Javeria is a writer, a yogi and an absolute lover of life. She reports live from the trenches of motherhood, stepping on metaphoric landmines, and sharing her experiences with unwavering optimism as she raises her three musketeers. Whenever life throws her off balance, she swivels back to zen mode with the power of yoga. When she’s not busy mastering the art of parenting,...
Updated on Jun 26, 2024 · 7 mins read
PUPP rash in pregnancy: Which foods to avoid

Pregnancy is a time of many changes for women, both physically and emotionally. One common issue that some women experience during pregnancy is a skin rash, particularly the PUPPP rash.

Another term used to refer to PUPPP rash is a polymorphic eruption of pregnancy. PUPPP stands for pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, quite a mouthful! But don’t worry, you don’t have to be a medical expert to understand it. Basically, it’s a fancy way of saying itchy red bumps that can appear during pregnancy. The name may represent it well, but let’s just stick with its short PUPPP, shall we? Trust me, the last thing you want to be doing when you’re dealing with this rash is trying to pronounce its full name!

Now, I won’t sugarcoat it – PUPPP rash can be really uncomfortable. Itchy, red bumps and raised patches that can also have tiny blisters? Not exactly what you want to be dealing with on top of all the other pregnancy symptoms. But here’s the good news: while PUPPP rash is definitely annoying, it’s not harmful to you or your baby. And the rash usually goes away on its own a few weeks after you give birth. Don’t let the PUPPP rash dampen your pregnancy glow. With the right information and management, you can ease the discomfort caused by this skin condition, which affects up to 1 in 150 pregnancies.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what PUPPP rash is, its symptoms, causes, and treatment options. We’ll also explore what foods to avoid with PUPPP rash and other pregnancy rashes.

What is PUPPP rash in pregnancy? 

PUPPP rash is a common skin condition that affects up to one in 150 pregnancies. It usually appears during the third trimester, around the 35th week, but it can occur earlier in some cases. The rash typically begins on the abdomen and then spreads to other areas of the body, such as the thighs, buttocks, and arms. It is characterised by itchy red bumps and raised patches that can also have tiny blisters. The rash can be uncomfortable and irritating, but it is not harmful to the mother or the baby.

What causes PUPPP pregnancy rashes and how to treat them?

Pregnancy rashes are caused by hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. These changes can affect the skin’s elasticity, leading to dryness, itching, and rashes.

In addition to PUPPP rash, there are other types of pregnancy rashes, such as prurigo of pregnancy, pemphigoid gestationis, and atopic eruption of pregnancy. To give you a quick run-through:

Prurigo of pregnancy is characterised by itchy, hard, and dome-shaped bumps that can appear on the arms, legs, and torso.

Pemphigoid gestationis is a rare autoimmune disorder that causes itchy, blistering rashes on the abdomen, and can lead to serious complications if left untreated.

Atopic eruption of pregnancy is characterised by itchy, red, and scaly patches that can appear anywhere on the body.

Each type of rash has its own set of symptoms and therefore warrants its own specific treatment options. While some of these rashes may clear up on their own after delivery, others may require medical intervention. Treatments may include topical creams or ointments, antihistamines, or in more severe cases, oral steroids.

Since PUPPP rash cannot be cured and resolves on its own after delivery, treatment for PUPPP rash mainly involves managing the symptoms during the pregnancy.

Here are a few ways to help manage PUPPP rash symptoms and make the experience more comfortable:

  1. Use topical treatments: Applying a topical cream or ointment, such as hydrocortisone or calamine lotion, can help to relieve itching and reduce inflammation.
  1. Take antihistamines: Some over-the-counter options can help to reduce itching and irritation. However, it’s important to remember that medication should only be taken under the guidance of a healthcare provider. Be sure to talk to your provider before taking any medications to ensure they are safe for you and your baby.
  1. Keep skin moisturised: If you’re dealing with PUPPP rash during pregnancy, one thing that might help manage the symptoms is keeping your skin moisturised. Using an unscented lotion can be a good option to avoid any potential allergic reactions. It’s worth giving it a try since it can help soothe and hydrate the affected area.
  1. Wear loose-fitting clothes: One of the most relieving things you can do for PUPPP rash during pregnancy is to wear loose-fitting clothes. Trust me, I know the struggle of feeling like your clothes are rubbing against your skin and making the itching worse. But wearing loose clothes can help reduce that irritation and friction, giving you some much-needed relief. Plus, it’s an excuse to rock that comfy, oversized t-shirt you love!
  1. Apply cool compresses: Placing a cool, damp cloth on the affected area can help to relieve itching and reduce inflammation.
  1. Oatmeal bath: Oatmeal baths can be a soothing and effective way to manage PUPPP rash during pregnancy. You can soak in the bath for 15 to 20 minutes, then pat yourself dry with a soft towel and apply a moisturiser to lock in the moisture. Be sure to avoid using hot water, as it can aggravate the rash and cause further irritation, and can also be harmful to your baby.
  1. Avoid scratching: I know it’s tough, but it’s crucial to resist scratching the rash as it can worsen the irritation and even cause infections. One tip is to wear gloves or keep your nails trimmed short to avoid accidentally scratching the affected area.
  1. Seek medical treatment: In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe oral steroids or other medications to help manage symptoms.

It’s important to note that while these treatments can help relieve discomfort, they will not cure the rash. The rash typically resolves on its own within a few weeks after delivery.

What foods need to avoid with PUPPP rash?

Restricting your diet during pregnancy can be tough, especially when you’re craving your favourite treats. But if you’re suffering from PUPPP rash, avoiding certain foods can help manage your symptoms. Here’s a low down on what foods to avoid with PUPPP rash:

  1. Spicy foods: Sorry, but it’s time to give up those hot wings for a while. Spicy foods can trigger PUPPP rash symptoms such as itching and irritation, so it’s best to avoid them.
  1. Greasy and fatty foods: I know, I know – nothing beats a juicy burger or a plate of fries. But foods that are high in fat can cause inflammation and aggravate PUPPP rash. It’s best to stick to healthy, low-fat options.
  1. Caffeine: Cutting back on coffee and tea may seem impossible, especially when you need that morning pick-me-up. But caffeine can increase inflammation and trigger PUPPP rash symptoms, so it’s worth considering.
  1. Citrus fruits: Oranges and lemons may be refreshing, but their acidic compounds can irritate the skin and worsen PUPPP rash symptoms.
  1. Chocolate: We hate to break it to you, but chocolate contains compounds that can trigger histamine release in the body, leading to more itching and irritation.
  1. Dairy products: Milk, cheese, and other dairy products can cause inflammation in some people, which can exacerbate PUPPP rash symptoms.

Pregnancy can be a real rollercoaster ride, and it can be tough to keep up with all the dietary restrictions. But the good news is that avoiding these trigger foods not only helps manage your PUPPP rash symptoms but can also lead to other benefits, like feeling more energised and less bloated.

Also, by focusing on nutritious, whole foods and avoiding processed and high-fat options, you’ll be giving your body the nutrients it needs to support a healthy pregnancy. So, while it may be tough to say no to that extra slice of pizza or cup of coffee, your body (and your baby) will thank you in the long run!


PUPPP rash may be a bit uncomfortable, but it’s nothing to worry about for you or your baby. By managing the symptoms with simple remedies like creams and cool compresses, you can help alleviate the discomfort. And, if you need it, prescription medication is also an option. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and try avoiding certain foods that may trigger symptoms. Remember, while pregnancy rashes are common, always trust your gut and seek medical attention if you experience a rash with other concerning symptoms.

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