Friday, September 4, 2015

PUPPP sucks.

PUPPP or Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, sucks. Doctors know very little about why it happens but some researchers in the UK found a connection to dairy consumption, having multiple babies in one birth or it being the second+ pregnancy and mothers pregnant with boys. They think it's a conflict between the male DNA and the already established female DNA--- but that's all speculation since it wasn't a formal study.

I have around thirty days left in this pregnancy. My due date is October 7th, but we all know babies come when they want regardless of doctor estimated ETA. Well, with that said we've been pretty strict around our house when it comes to dairy because of BabyG's eczema related allergies. Since I only have a few weeks to go I wanted ice cream to soothe the emotional stress of my impending hospital stay and all the nasty that comes with child birth. You know the drill... Eat the angst away. Well, that bowl of ice cream is what I believe triggered this awful PUPPP mess.

I woke up like this: 

Swollen, hives on my sides and my fingers ached because they were so swollen. The first day I thought I had developed a terrible allergy to coconut, which I had sprinkled on my ice cream the night before. Hubby said it must have been the ice cream. I must have developed BabyG's dairy allergy. I would've thought so too but the milkshake I had drank a few nights before didn't bother me. The first twenty-four hours I was in a Benadryl stupor believing I had exposed myself to something my body just decided to hate. The hives had started almost immediately after eating the ice cream on my elbows. I put some topical Benadryl on it thinking I had been bitten by something or rubbed up against something my skin decided it didn't like. The topical Benadryl didn't help me by morning.

The next day, my hands looked like this:

I was suffering but could handle it. I had stopped taking Benadryl because I worry about the effects on my little uterus dweller and I was seeing improvements while the Benadryl was fading. That is when it dawned on me my new ailment could be pregnancy related. I opened my pregnancy app and sure enough, it said skin changes and cited PUPPP as the culprit. After a quick google search it was clear that's what I have. The hives weren't like hives I've had before. The picture in the wiki article was the same circular hives I had down my arms and legs. 

Yesterday I spent basically all day looking for first hand experiences with PUPPP and they all read the same way: This is going to be the worst thing I'll experience due to pregnancy.  It may or may not last until I give birth. It may or may not go away after I give birth. PUPPP is terrible. The itching is unmeasurable to anything else. Aloe and Pine Tar Soap helps. Head and Shoulders as a body wash is worth a try. The itchy feeling never stops, just subsides. Some recover after a few short weeks without even knowing about removing dairy from their diets. Some used Whole 30 and avoiding sugar and it seemed to help. There is nothing definitive about how to cure this annoying pregnancy symptom, just various way of trying to ease  it until it decides to go away. 

I do know one thing though, my entire life is orbiting around these painfully itchy hives. I wake up at 3am like clock work. I have since I first discovered I was pregnant. I was only about three weeks into being pregnant when I started to wake up at 3am to go use the bathroom. That was my first red flag that I may be pregnant. After a full week of waking up at 3am, regardless of what time I actually fell asleep-- I knew I was pregnant. So, for the last eight months I have been waking up right at 3 or close to it every morning to pee or just to groan and roll over to go back to sleep. 

Now, I wake up at 3am itching. It reminds me of BabyG and her eczema. I itch. I itch so passionately I catch myself holding my breath and my eyes start to water. This morning I woke up at 3am to pee and my lips were swollen but for the most part I felt okay. No major swelling in the hands and feet, just lips and cheeks of my face. So I decided to move out into the living room to sleep sitting up to help reduce the swelling. After a couple moments I could tell a difference in my face but the itching started.  Between my toes. The itch was so bad I had to stop periodically to remind myself to breathe. This went on for roughly two hours. I remembered reading the head and shoulders post so I went to my stockpile and was over the moon that I had a bottle. I killed my loofah and used almost half the bottle, but I found some form of relief. I had a breakdown in the shower, scrubbing. I began to sob as I scrubbed, not knowing if the head and shoulders would work. It was five o'clock in the morning and I was using dandruff shampoo as Xanax all over my body. I cried deep until I realized I was having a panic attack. I haven't had a panic attack at that magnitude in years. I had to talk myself down from it. I had to focus on my breathing and count my strokes of the loofah against my skin as it started to unravel because of the pressure I was using. When the water ran clear, I would lather the loofah again and repeat the process. I eventually stopped crying and snapped out of my hysterics. I had visited the dark place the other ladies had complained about in their forum posts. I had cracked. Not knowing if the shampoo would work, I gathered the courage to get out of the shower. The painful tingle of needing to itch had subsided. I could breathe again. Although my hives were bright red and I could see them all over my belly but the tingle was gone. I could feel it reappearing on my hands but it was tolerable. I was back in control. I coated myself in lidocaine aloe; put on fresh pajamas and laid back down on the beanbag chair, my lips were still swollen. I made a fb post reliving my shower meltdown and magically was able to relax enough to sleep, at 6am I closed my eyes and managed to get another two hours of sleep. 

Since then, my lips aren't swollen anymore but I'm still covered in hives and slowly I'm starting to itch all over again. I need a new loofah and I plan on trying to find that soap. If you ever experienced PUPPP or found this blog because you think you may have it -- I'm truly sorry you have to experience this. To put it into words, I can only describe the pain as being covered in red ant bites. I've had regular hives before and these are so much worse. So very painfully worse.

UPDATE: I'd like to post my resolutions to this PUPPP issue in case you found this looking for some sort of relief.

Don't use Cortizone-10. It is what swelled my hands up so bad. It just doesn't jive with whatever the chemical malfunction is that causes PUPPP to begin with. Well, everyone is different-- try with caution and if you see excessive swelling in a matter of an hour or so  just wash it off and wait a couple hours, the swelling should go down and don't look back! I had to put ice on my hands to help the swelling go down after applying cortizone gel because my fingers itched so bad. Lesson learned.

Do use Zyrtec!!!!! (or the generic versions that are available over the counter) This is what I primarily give credit to my cleared up skin and very minimal itching! Stick to your dose though, at the end of 24hrs I can feel my elbows and knees start to itch again. After taking a zyrtec in about an hour my itching stops and I may have a few stray hives but they are very tolerable. Even with the zyrtec I find myself itching at night and early morning and occasionally throughout the day but it's more like misquito bite annoyance and not my whole body on fire. If you are able to take zyrtec,  I really urge you to try it! I bought the pine Tar Soap too but the zyrtec has worked so well I haven't bothered to use it.

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