When Summer Bostock's pregnant belly began to itch, she figured it was just another side effect of having her skin stretch out to accommodate the baby growing inside of her. And then the itching got worse. And began spreading. And left the mom-to-be in agonizing pain. Bostock had a severe and rare case of polymorphic eruption in pregnancy, often called PUPPP (short for pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy).
The condition itself is fairly common. Although experts haven't been able to pin down whether it's caused by hormonal changes, issues with the connective tissues in the belly, or maybe even something having to do with the placenta, it's the most common skin condition that crops up during pregnancy.
But Bostock's was anything but common. Hers was spreading beyond her stomach -- where it typically shows up on expectant women -- to other areas of the body, covering her legs and arms in angry, red, painful pustules.
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And when Bostock went looking for help, she tells CafeMom her doctor was mystified ... and not particularly helpful. Her mom had Googled her symptoms, and the women had a feeling she might have PUPPP, although they couldn't find anything on the Internet that looked like what she was experiencing.
When Bostock got to her doctor's office, she said he had to Google the condition and how to treat it.
"He gave me some cream which just didn't help for a few weeks," Bostock recalls. So she changed doctors ... hoping someone could quell the agony spreading across her body.
"I can't even tell you just how many doctors I saw to try and find something that would work, and pretty much every doctor also had to look it up. It was so strange when no doctors knew what it was," she says.
It's why Bostock has been speaking out about what happened to her and sharing photos of late. The condition occurred during her first pregnancy, which is common -- most women with PUPPP have never been pregnant before -- but that was back in 2012. Her son Izaiah is now 5, and the rash and pain resolved after his birth. Bostock has had two PUPPP-free pregnancies since then.
Still, all it takes is a look at the photos of her belly to send her back to those painful days, and to make her more convinced they need to be shared.
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"I love the fact that spreading my story is actually helping mums know what they have or even did have in pregnancies when doctors didn't know," she tells CafeMom. "To just put a name to it and know you're not crazy helps!"
Her best advice for moms dealing with unbearable pain and itching during pregnancy?
Don't accept that it's just something you have to deal with because you're pregnant.
"Plus don't be scared to go get other opinions!" she says. "Research, find out what's going on with your body. You know your body best!"