Rash decisions

When we were packing for Paris I brought my pregnancy multivitamins, some breast pads just in case I started leaking (I didn’t!) and most importantly of all, my hospital notes. We also looked up how to call an ambulance in France and our guidebook even helpfully had the number of the British hospital, although in reality I’m sure I wouldn’t have cared by that point who was treating me. Thus prepared, the only potential problems were unforeseen ones, such as the discovery of an unpleasant rash halfway through the week.

At the end of our day at Versailles I was getting ready for my well-deserved bath when I noticed a rash all over my tummy. It was not itchy, and looked exactly like heat rash. Really – heat rash, during the coldest Spring ever? Mr Cath pointed out that the palaces had been boiling hot and while I’d tried to remove some of my layers, I would have inevitably overheated without realising, especially in contrast to the Arctic winds outside. While I can roll up my sleeves, it is not socially acceptable to turn one’s sweater into a crop top! I’ve had heat rash before, but usually on my back and never on the belly before. I had a quick but ill-advised search on the internet, and even on the small screen of Mr Cath’s smartphone the photos were horrendous! Never search for anything containing the word “rash”… Eww.


Kitten according to Wikipedia

Before I dropped the phone in disgust I’d gleaned the general advice that you should tell your midwife about any unexpected changes in your skin, i.e. any rashes. We were on a romantic babymoon in Paris – the last thing I wanted to do was call! I decided to wait until the following day to do anything and made a determined effort to stop thinking about it. After dinner it appeared to have diminished, which I took as a good sign. And by the morning it had completely disappeared, suggesting that it had in fact been a straightforward case of heat rash – nothing more sinister than that.

The lack of itching was what really stopped me panicking too much. If an itchy rash does occur, the midwife should be called straight away as this could be a sign of something considerably more serious than a common or garden heat rash.

While just mild itching on the tummy is really common, as the skin stretches to accommodate the bump, severe itching needs to be checked out as this could be a sign of a liver disorder called obstetric cholestasis which has links with stillbirth.

As for rashes during pregnancy, these could be the beautifully named pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) amongst others – Netdoctor has a comprehensive list here. Fortunately the most acute conditions that a rash can signify are extremely rare, but I get the impression that it’s definitely better safe than sorry when it comes to checking out a rash or a bad itch!

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