By Ally | Health

Feb 21

How I cured my PUPPP pregnancy rash naturally! 

*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or giving medical advice! I simply wanted to share what foods helped me heal and worked naturally for my body for those seeking relief. Also - be prepared for graphic photos and video of my gnarly rash *

If you’ve found your way to this blog post, you or someone you love is probably suffering horribly right now with this aggressive and angry rash. I feel your pain. It’s no joke and I wish that no one had to go through this incredibly intense and uncomfortable experience. 

PUPPP Rash is a living hell. I'm so sorry that you are experiencing the symptoms. 

In the end, I feel my rash was such a blessing, as I learned so much about my body, my health and food as medicine in a new and very clear way. Clear as in, I could see it working it’s magical healing-food amazingness on my body, right in front of my eyes. 

The reason I am posting this is because neither the nurses at tele-health, my family doctor, my OB, dermatologist or WEBMD were able to give me anything that really helped or “cured” this rash. It’s kind of a mystery rash. They all told me that it would go away after the baby came out mid-June (this was in early November!) but that there wasn’t a whole lot they could do because it’s too early to induce labour (obviously). My doula directed me to my doctor, who couldn't do much of anything. And also, when I took to the internet for solutions, there was a lot of information about how there’s “nothing you can do”,  “maybe try an oatmeal bath” type of stuff out there..... not so helpful internet. 

There’s a lot you can do actually, as it turns out,

and I found great relief in the methods I tried and am living out the rest of my pregnancy RASH-FREE! 

This is the “COLES NOTES” version of my long rant of a youtube video, for anyone who has sat through the whole thing- wow, great patience! I commend you on that lol… 

First I will fill you in on my experience a little bit. I will talk about what helped with the itch (3 mins into video). Then what theory I followed (11 mins 30 seconds), how I cured my rash with whole foods & medicinal drinks, also my progress timeline. Then what DID NOT work for me. So, this is going to be a long post and you can scroll to find the information you need! However, I highly recommend reading the whole post. 

First things first, I was diagnosed with this rash at about 10 weeks pregnant (it started showing up around 7 weeks!) which is apparently extremely early. However, I had dozens of women reach out to me with the same experience of it showing up in the first trimester, so apparently it’s more common than one would be led to think. The rash normally shows up at the end of the 3rd trimester then disappears after birth. 

I was miserable and there really wasn’t much solid help out there for me in the medical world or on the internet if I’m honest. I found only one women online who had legit healed her rash (THANK GODDESS!) and that was what I based my experiments around. 

At first, the doctors thought I might have the chicken pox. Then, they quickly shifted to PUPPP when the rash didn’t clear up, continued to worsen and was behaving exactly like pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, they immediately did my blood work to test me for cholestasis of pregnancy (which usually includes itchy feet and hands which could be a sign of cholestasis of pregnancy, a complication that can negatively affect the baby)

Make sure that your doctor tests you for this! My bloodwork came back fine. 

Thankfully, although PUPPP is horrible, it does not negatively affect your baby.

It just sucks the life out of YOU. Your baby is safe. 

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE ITCHING

1. Bathe with baking soda. Luke warm water or as cool as you can stand. 1/2 cup of baking soda and soak in the bath for ten mins to half an hour. (Watch the YouTube video in the bath! Then you will get the full details!)  

DO NOT ADD EPSOM SALTS TO YOUR BATH! Trust me on this… your body will feel like it’s ON FIRE! 

OR - if you don’t have a bath use a baking soda paste (I show how to make this at 3 mins 55 seconds of the video) and gently pat the paste on your rash and then gently rinse off with as cool/luke-warm water as you can. 

2. Another great relief comes from PINE TAR SOAP. I show how I specifically use the soap at 5 mins into the video. You use the suds of the soap on your skin, gently pat the suds on your skin, let it sit for a few mins, ideally ten minutes, then rinse with as cool/warm of a shower as you can stand. Hot water makes the rash worse. Much worse. Or hop into the baking soda bath. 

Buy Pine Tar Soap:   SOAP WORKS      |    GRANPA’S PINE TAR SOAP 

At first I used the soap every hour or two. Then as I started working with foods and the rash started to heal, I needed to use the soap/soda less and less over time. Every 4 hours, to every 8 hours, to once a day, then none at all. 

3. DO NOT ITCH IT! Not itching is nearly impossible but also makes things so much worse.

It feels like you’re being stung by hundreds of fire ants at once. 

4. Aloe Vera can be helpful once you are out of the bath, but really doesn’t provide much relief without the baking soda or Pine Tar soap - and really didn’t do anything until I started working with FOODS.  Buy Pure Aloe Vera Gel

MY  RESULTS ONCE I STARTED HEALING WITH FOODS

Here's day one of starting to work internally with foods/drinks. I was about 10 weeks pregnant at the time and had just been diagnosed with PUPPP rash and told that I needed to go see a specialist. (A dermatologist who couldn't see me for almost 3 months!)  I will show my belly and chest progress, but know that also my arms, legs, back and especially my ankles were also raw with itching wounds. This should be good motivation for you NOT TO ITCH THE RASH! It will bleed and forms scabs and sores. Plus it BURNS and feels like it's on fire if you itch it!!

After about a week, I was feeling substantial relief but it still looked pretty bad (as shown below!). I was definitely over 50% less itchy!

My rash started healing pretty rapidly, and my skin began to heal! 

Here's my skin about 2 weeks into healing through foods. My rash eventually disappeared completely and my skin has healed with the exception of a couple of scars! 

HOW TO WORK WITH FOODS TO HEAL THE RASH 

The theory that I followed (11 mins 30 seconds) revolved around the liver. I learned it from that one blog post that saved me. (THANK YOU ALEXA!)

AND,  I liked the theory because there were many things that I could try to help the rash and potentially reverse it. The theory is basically that the pregnancy is causing the liver to become over-congested and needs to be gently helped to cleanse. According to the American Pregnancy Association, pregnancy hormones can negatively affect liver function in that they slow or can even stop the flow of bile: “The gallbladder holds bile that is produced in the liver, which is necessary for the breakdown of fats in digestion. When the bile flow in the liver itself is stopped or slowed down, this causes a build up of bile acids in the liver which can spill into the bloodstream” (source).

Other theories are essentially “you’re allergic to your baby’s tissues” or “you’re having an autoimmune response to your baby’s DNA” - there’s literally nothing I could do about that. So, I thought “No thank you. I’m going to go with the liver theory and see if it works.” 

Also, the first thing my doctors did was check my liver (for cholestasis) and so I thought, there must be something to this theory, AND if it worked for her, it can work for me! 

Now, most liver cleanses and liver cleansing herbs are NOT SAFE FOR PREGNANCY!!! So what was a girl to do? I had to do something. I felt like I was going insane!!! Though, I was somehow keeping it together and staying relatively calm, I really was in agony and wasn’t sleeping AT ALL. I was itching until I bled. It was a living nightmare. One of the most challenging health issues I've ever faced. 

So what were some things I tried that were supposed to be safe and apparently gentle enough for pregnancy?

One last disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I have never studied medicine, nor do I have any authority to give advice other than my personal experience. Please talk with your health care provider about the following treatment options if you want to attempt any of them. 

1. Lemon Water - Every Morning. Warm Lemon Water. (Sometimes with maple syrup!) 

2. Black Cherry Juice - I’m talking like all morning, a bottle a day - here’s the brand I used. I swear by this stuff, I think it made the biggest difference of anything I tried. 

3. Apples - all day, every day. As many apples as I could eat. 

4. Dates - I basically ate apples and dates whenever I got hungry. 

5. Apple Cider - drank a lot of apple cider to get my apple intake up! 

6. Hibiscus Tea - I drank as much pure Hibiscus Tea as possible. Especially at night (be prepared to pee a lot!!! There’s a lot of drinking involved!) 

7. Pitta Soothing Tea - I drank a lot of this tea as well! It’s supposed to help with anything HOT AND ANGRY which this rash definitely is. Buy it HERE

8. Smoothies - I added Hawaiian Spirulina & Barley Grass Juice Powder, Frozen Wild Blueberries, Cilantro, Parsley, Mango, Pitaya (Red Dragon Fruit), Papaya, Apples and other foods from the book I recommend below. I didn't add anything to my smoothies that would be difficult for my liver to process. No foods high in fats, not a ton of protein. Lots of plant powered complex carbs/natural sugars are what saved the day. I also used these variations of Liver Rescue Smoothies a lot! 

9. Juices - If you have a juicer - Celery Juice, Celery/Apple Juice, Cucumber/Apple Juice, Liver Rescue Juice from the book I recommend below. 

10. Broths/Stews - with lots of CELERY, onions, garlic, etc. I also made the "Liver Rescue Broth" from the book below. 

11. Manuka Honey - I’m not recommending this as it’s apparently not safe for pregnancy, but I am just being honest about what I used to help my rash heal and I did use a whole jar of this stuff. It’s supposed to be be super healing and I just thought I would take the risk. Again, pregnant women really aren’t supposed to use honey. (But I did, against all the recommendations out there). 

12. Liver Rescue Mornings - What is this exactly?  It’s a gentle liver support/cleanse from the book LIVER RESCUE by Anthony William. Whether you love him or hate him or don’t know who he is, this worked like a charm. It felt safe and easy and gentle enough for my pregnant body. I’m super grateful for this book and the information he shared!  Essentially you avoid fat at breakfast/in the morning for as long as you can (especially animal products/oils/nuts and gluten), and instead bring in some of his healing foods/smoothies/juices/teas. I highly recommend keeping an open mind and checking out his book. It's the best money you'll ever spend if you've got this rash. Also, here is a whole list of foods and supplements that he recommends for healing the liver. Be sure to check each food/product is safe for pregnancy with your health care provider. 

13. I tried to eat clean at dinner but that’s when I would eat the majority of my fats and proteins, but I did try to keep them LESS then I would normally eat, give my liver a break from all that bile production, give it more of a chance to heal and cleanse, etc. 

14. Lots and lots of water!!! You want to be peeing A LOT! 

THINGS I TRIED THAT DIDN’T WORK

I tried A LOT of things. Spent hundreds of dollars. And I’ll be honest, most of these things did JACK until I started working with foods. Here’s some things I tried that either flat out didn’t work, or I kinda half-heartedly tried but didn't get much result. 

1. Calamine Lotion - Nope! Pointless. 

2. Aveeno Excema Care - Didn’t work. 

3. Aveeno Baby Excema Care Baths - No relief. 

4. Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion - Tiny bit of relief from the itch, didn’t help the rash. 

5. O’Keefe’s Skin Repair - Tiny bit more relief from the itch, didn’t help the rash. 

6. Lavender Oil with Shea Butter - Didn’t do a thing. 

7. CBD Oil - Nada. 

8. Tromos Cream - Didn’t do anything but was great for healing my skin once I was able to alleviate the rash. BUY IT HERE. 

9. Benadryl - Didn’t work at all. 

10. Oatmeal Baths - Not a thing.

11. Epsom Salt Baths - DON’T DO IT!!!! Your skin may feel like it’s burning off! 

12. Ice Packs - kinda helped with how HOT the rash gets, especially if you itch it. 

13. Milk Thistle - It’s tricky to find Milk Thistle that is safe for pregnancy, but apparently it helps. I tried it once and it was so gross tasting that I didn’t do it again as I was healing fine without it. 

14. Chlorophyll - I did talk about this in my video, but I didn’t actually drink a ton of it when I look at how much is left in the bottle and so I’m not sure that it really moved the needle on my rash. 

15. Aloe Vera Juice - Again, I did talk about this in my video, but I didn’t actually drink that much of it when I look at how much is left in the bottle so I didn't feel I should put it at the top of my recommended foods/drinks.

Now... 

Here’s me, living it up in my rash-free/post-PUPPP pregnancy bliss in Costa Rica (where I lead my week long yoga retreats) and I am SO GLAD that I healed it as I honestly would not have been able to go if it had of continued to get worse and worse (which is exactly what it was doing before I started working with my liver and healing foods.) 

I hope that you find this information helpful. I hope you are able to find relief and heal your rash like I did. I wish you the best on your healing journey. I’m sorry about how much it sucks, but if I can heal it, then I believe you can too. I’m currently living out my 2nd trimester is rash-free bliss and I couldn’t be more grateful for that!!! 

Good luck and congratulations on your bundle of joy to come, so worth the temporary agony! 🙂 

Namaste, 
Ally 

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About the Author

Ally Boothroyd is a yoga educator and meditation teacher with a passion for yoga nidra and the healing power of conscious rest. She is the founder of Sarovara Yoga, a yoga space and women's retreat centre in Ontario, Canada. A sanctuary on the water where she fosters local community and supports health, personal growth, emotional resiliency, authenticity, awareness, and awakening. Ally also leads Retreats and Yoga Teacher Trainings in Nosara, Costa Rica

  • Nicole says:

    Did you find that exercising made the rash worse? Whenever I walk it seems to blow up, but I hate to stop being active.

    • Ally says:

      I actually did find that sweating made it way worse. But once I started healing the rash (only took about 1-2 weeks to start healing and 3-4 weeks to heal completely) then I could be active again no problem! 🙂

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