Rash in pregnancy


During pregnancy, a variety of different skin lesions may occur, some or all of which are separate or parallel to each other and others.


The so-called chloasma (also: melasma or pregnancy mask ) is a skin change, which is one of the hyperpigmentation of the skin, so an increased color.
Chloasma can also occur independently of pregnancy, but is most often found in this phase of life. It is then typically brownish pigmentation marks on the neck, cheeks or forehead.
In women with a darker natural skin color, these spots may occasionally appear lighter than the rest of the skin. This coloring is due to the fact that, stimulated by pregnancy hormones, the pigment melanin is incorporated into the skin. Due to high sun exposure to the skin, these spots become darker, which is why the sunlight should be shunned by those affected or a high SPF should be worn.

Normally, skin lesions return within no more than three months after the end of the pregnancy. It has been shown that one can support this regression process by taking enough folic acid, whether in natural form (for example, in green vegetables, liver or whole grain cereals) or as a dietary supplement.

Linea nigra

The linea nigra has a similar origin as the chloasma. This is a dark line that extends from the belly button to the pubic bone.
It also creates the dark color due to excessive melanin storage and forms itself back. In addition to the intake of folic acid, a light massage accelerates the time until the affected area of ​​the skin returns to normal.

Liver rash in pregnancy

Itching of the skin and also small reddish lesions on any part of the body are mostly caused by the local condition. But it can also be that there are systemic causes behind it.
Systemic diseases are usually metabolic and detoxification processes that can not take place properly in this situation. Toxins that should be eliminated from the body accumulate in the body and cause an itchy skin reaction. This can lead to a bile drainage problem, which then dammed back into the liver. The lack of metabolism can then lead to itching and a rash on any skin area of ​​the body.

In addition to the itching on the body there is a darkening of the urine and a lighter color of the stool. This condition, also known as cholestasis, must be treated unconditionally, as harmless and easily treatable gallstones may be behind the problem, as well as life-threatening tumors.

Figure rash in pregnancy

Figure rash in pregnancy: causes, symptoms

skin rash
during pregnancy

  1. chloasma
    (Mask of pregnancy)
    Pigmentation marks on the face
  2. Herpes gestationes
    (Autoimmune disease)
    strongly itchy whorls
    Surfaces or bubbles
  3. Linea nigra ( dark line)
    from the navel up
    pubic bone
  4. PUPP
    of pregnancy
    strong itchy nodules
  5. Candidosis (infestation with yeast fungus)
    Itching of the vagina
  6. Increased rubbing in the skin fold
    sweat, basis for a fungal infection
  7. Gaining weight (breasts, thighs)
    Skin is rubbed
  8. Strong stretching of the skin -
    Itching, insomnia
  9. Allergy (shower gel, washing lotion,
    Cosmetics) -
    reddish skin change
  10. Hemorrhoids -
    Redness and itching in the anal area

Rash in pregnancy with itching

A rash, sometimes associated with itching, is considered to be completely normal during pregnancy. Because of the high levels of hormones in the blood, the skin is sensitized to many substances, which means that it reacts more sensitively to certain substances than under normal circumstances and then reacts to a rash or inflammation.
Sometimes the exact cause can not be determined exactly, but in general it helps to pay attention to a thorough skin care and to wear wide cotton clothes, as these irritate the skin least additionally.

A common cause of itching of the vagina is the candidosis, the infestation with a yeast fungus, which also occurs more often during pregnancy. Haemorrhoids also occur more frequently in pregnant women and can cause redness and itching in the anal area. In principle, these diseases are harmless.
However, if there is a suspicion of candidosis, it should be treated, otherwise there is the possibility that the child will also become infected during the birth. In general, in the case of a rash without a detectable trigger that lasts more than two days without showing any improvement, pregnant women should consult a doctor and seek clarification. Although there are few reasons for concern, it is often important for pregnant women to have safety for them and their unborn child.

Another cause of a rash is weight gain during pregnancy. As a result, the skin can be rubbed in certain places, for example below the breasts or even between the thighs, causing inflammation, blushing and pain. Occasionally it even causes blistering or a foul odor. This phenomenon is also called Intertrigo. It is important that those affected take care to keep the red spots as dry as possible and to ventilate them sufficiently.

It is not uncommon for the skin to store water. In some cases, this even has a positive effect, namely that small wrinkles are smoothed and the skin shines rosy or shimmering, since the blood circulation is improved. In others, however, the increased water intake also causes the skin to look puffy and red spots and bumps more prominent. However, after completing the pregnancy, these changes are completely self-evident.

Rash in pregnancy on the stomach

There are several causes of a rash in pregnancy

A rash in pregnancy can occur on the stomach. This usually occurs in the second half of pregnancy. Depending on the cause, the rash manifests itself differently.

Almost always there is an itching that can lead to great suffering or even insomnia. The itching does not have to be allergic. The strong stretching of the skin during pregnancy can lead to such discomfort.
A first-time allergic reaction to cosmetics may be in the form of a rash on the abdomen during pregnancy. The rash usually manifests itself first in the form of red and raised herds noticeable.
If there are not only redness around the navel, but also very itchy, squat-like surfaces or blisters, this can be an indication of a so-called herpes gestationes (an autoimmune disease). The bubbles burst under mechanical stress and can typically spread to the whole body.
Another cause may be a polymorphic pregnancy dermatosis, the so-called PUPP, in which, however, the umbilical region is left open and instead of blisters form rather itchy nodules.

Often rashes are also localized near the genital area. Read more about rash in the genital area

Rash in pregnancy on the chest

Many women suffer from a rash during their pregnancy, which can have various and usually harmless causes. The rash may manifest in the chest area as raised or not elevated redness. Often this is accompanied by an itch.

Due to the increased hormone levels in the blood during pregnancy, the skin can be more sensitive and respond to cosmetics or washing lotions that have been previously well tolerated. It can also be just the skin below the breast affected by a painful redness.
The cause is usually the increase in size of the breasts, resulting in increased rubbing in the skin fold. If you additionally suffer from increased perspiration during pregnancy, this area is moist and can form a basis for a fungal infection. Such a can be treated well with antifungal ointments. In addition, care should be taken that the area remains dry. There is no danger to the child.

Independent diseases that affect the skin during pregnancy, such as the herpes gestationes or the PUPP, express themselves with vesicles or nodules and umbilical elevations and affect in the initial stage usually not the chest, but the stomach.

  • Rash under the breast
  • Rash on the chest

Rash in pregnancy on the back and legs

A rash in pregnancy can also occur on the back or legs. He often appears in the second half of pregnancy. However, these regions are not often affected.

The rash usually manifests itself as a reddened and raised area. He is often accompanied by a strong and unpleasant itching. The rash may also be scaly or wet. There may also be red spots on the back. On the legs, a rash often occurs in the area of ​​the popliteal fossa.

If there are known allergies (including hay fever) in the history of the afflicted or close relatives, an atopic pregnancy dermatosis could be present. If the rash is localized not only on the legs, but also on the face, neck and / or décolleté, the suspicion is close.
The itching can bring a high level of suffering for the pregnant woman and should be treated unconditionally. The unborn child is not at risk.
By gaining weight during pregnancy, it can lead to unusual friction between the thighs. This friction can cause a painful and very reddened skin rash. The affected area should be maintained and kept dry.

Rash in pregnancy on the legs

Rashes on the legs that occur during pregnancy usually have a harmless cause. For example, allergies may be due to a particular shower gel or detergent that quickly disappears after avoiding these products.

Sometimes a neurodermatitis, which is then treated with cortisone, may be behind a skin rash on the legs.

Rash in pregnancy on the arms

In many cases, there is a reddening on one or both arms during pregnancy. Here, an allergy to a recently used shower gel or washing lotion may be the triggering reason. Also, a new atopic dermatitis may be behind a rash on the arm.

The diagnostic options are rather limited. Skin smears are only performed if a fungal infection is suspected or if there is no improvement to a started drug treatment. If contact dermatitis is behind the rash, detergents or shower gels should be changed. In the case of a triggering neurodermatitis, treatment with a cortisone preparation can be started.

In allergic contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis there are reddish-itchy skin lesions in the arms. If, on the other hand, there are small reddish and itchy blisters on the arm, this is probably due to a shingles. The bubbles may also open and drain liquid. This fluid is highly contagious, contact should be avoided.

Rash in pregnancy on the hands

If there is a skin rash on the hands during pregnancy, it usually comes from an allergy to a shower gel, soap or detergent. It is important to ask if the products have been changed recently. If this is the case, new preparations should be used. In a skin rash caused by chemical substances, there are usually small reddish spots on the hands that can itch severely.

Furthermore, frequent hand washing can lead to a rash on the hands. The reason is that the acidity of the skin of the skin is attacked and ultimately disturbed by the many water. The acid mantle is important and provides an effective defense system against pathogens. If the hands are washed very often, it comes to a thinning of this defense system. The skin is dry and flaky as well as reddish. Usually, however, it does not lead to the typical, reddish small punctate skin lesions on the fingers, but rather to extensive and larger redness on the fingers and palms.
For treatment, frequent hand washing should be reduced and greasy and nourishing skin lotions should be used, under which the acid mantle of the skin regenerates quite quickly.

PUPP syndrome

The skin changes occur especially in late pregnancy.

The PUPP is a polymorphic pregnancy dermatosis. The term PUPP stands for Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (itchy umbilical papules and plaques in pregnancy). PUPPP is a common pregnancy dermatosis and is mainly seen in first-time mothers, twin pregnancies, or when gaining weight during pregnancy.

The rash usually begins in the last few weeks of pregnancy on the stomach, leaving the umbilical region recessed. Often, new stretch marks suddenly occur. Within this there is redness, swelling and the formation of small nodules (papules). The rash is accompanied by a strong itching.
Within days, the rash spreads to the thighs, buttocks, arms and upper torso.

The therapy is carried out with mild cortisol preparations and symptomatic eg against the itching. What exactly is necessary, the doctor decides, depending on the severity of the appearance.

The prognosis of PUPPP is good. After delivery, the skin rash spontaneously heals. Only in rare cases does a skin lesion persist for a long time or does it recur in another pregnancy. For the newborn there is no health risk.

Acne in pregnancy

Many women get problems with pimples or even acne during pregnancy for the first time since the end of puberty. This phenomenon is also due to the increased hormone levels. They are responsible for stimulating the production of sebum, or oil.
If there is too much of it, however, the skin pores become clogged and it can get to pimples to pronounced acne. For pregnant women in principle, the same rules apply as for other people with acne: The skin should be well cleaned with a not too aggressive cleanser and moisturizers should not contain oil. However, pregnant women should not take medicines for acne without consulting a doctor, as some ingredients of these medicines may be harmful during pregnancy.
Please also read our article Acne - Causes, Symptoms and Therapy


Targeted skincare can already be prophylactic to help with a rash during pregnancy. The skin is often stressed during pregnancy. On the one hand by the stronger stretching and on the other hand a possible hormone-related dryness of the skin. The use of moisturizing lotions or moisturizing bath additives can already provide help and mitigate or even prevent a rash.

Skin folds, such as below the breasts, should be maintained and kept dry to prevent rubbing and moisture formation, which can sometimes lead to rash and fungal infections. If it really comes to a fungal infection, an antifungal ointment helps and usually alleviates the symptoms quickly.

Due to the increased hormone content in the blood, the skin is not only more sensitive during pregnancy, but can also be allergic to cosmetics, such as shower gels, or to the detergent used for the first time. The affected skin should first be washed only with water. Switching to hypoallergenic products, such as those available in drugstores and pharmacies, can help. In these products is on ingredients that can lead to allergic reactions omitted. These include, for example, fragrances and dyes. Products that are actually made to care for newborns are great because the skin of infants is also sensitive.

However, the doctor should be consulted for the following symptoms: If the rash persists for several days without the feeling of improvement, accompanied by a very intense itching and the rash spreading from the first affected area or bubbles on or near the foci (which burst under mechanical stress) or very itchy nodules. This appearance may not only be the result of more sensitive skin, but so-called gestational dermatoses, which should be treated with medication. Pregnancy dermatoses such as PUPP or herpes gestationes are treated with cortisol preparations and antihistamines. Normally, the preparations are administered locally as ointments. In severe cases, oral administration as a tablet may also be necessary.

  • When should a rash be treated with cortisone?
  • Treatment of rash with ointments and creams
  • Tannolact

Skin Conditions in Pregnancy with Dr Rob Butler (December 2019).

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