Women often suffer from several irritating skin infections particularly in the last two trimesters of their pregnancy. Common among these is the heat rash during pregnancy. This is generally characterized by red, itchy and inflamed skin particularly under the breasts, in the folds of the skin, armpits and elbows etc. The growing abdomen stretches and causes folds in certain areas of the skin. These can give rise to sweating or fungal growth which in turn forms prickly heat or Intertrigo rashes.
The fluctuating pregnancy hormones also make matters worse, often giving rise to a condition called the PUPPP (Pruritic urticarial Papules and Plaques of pregnancy) which is characterized by a red, raised rash on the abdominal region that can quickly spread to the arms and buttocks.
Heat rash during pregnancy: should you be alarmed?
Thankfully, most skin conditions during pregnancy resolve on their own, after the child has been delivered. Furthermore, while they do cause a great deal of itchiness and misery to the mother-to-be; they are usually harmless to the unborn child.
Prevention and self care for heat rash during pregnancy
- Most pregnancy related skin rashes are best treated with gentle products.
- It is important to not scrub the skin hard and especially avoid scratching the site of the rash. The germs trapped under the nails can lead to worsening of the skin condition and even lead to secondary bacterial infections that may need antibiotics for treatment.
- Gentle skin cleansers as well as natural soaps are recommended while bathing. Oatmeal baths, Aloe vera gel, baking soda and cornstarch are some natural ingredients that are recommended as they help soothe and treat most common cases of heat rash during pregnancy.
- Women must not take very hot baths and must keep their skin cool and dry. It is advisable to soak in tubs filled with lukewarm water to which some powdered oatmeal has been added. Soaps and cleansers used must have gentle ingredients.
- Following the bath, women may apply some calamine lotion, zinc oxide powder or a paste made of baking soda and water to the affected regions. All these ingredients can help reduce the redness and itchiness associated with the heat rash during pregnancy. Application of unscented prickly heat powders below the brassiere bands can help prevent a heat rash under breasts
- It is important to wear loose fitting and cotton clothing when the climate is extremely hot and humid. Women prone to heat rashes must away from synthetic clothing and panty hoses as these can aggravate the problem.
- As far as possible, pregnant women must avoid hot and humid environments.
- One must also drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet to keep the skin moisturized and prevent a heat rash during pregnancy.
It is important to get prescription medicines if the heat rash during pregnancy does not respond to these self care measures. Let your provider know of other symptoms accompanying the heat rash. In some cases, a prescription topical antifungal cream or oral antibiotics may be needed to soothe the heat rash during pregnancy.