A woman’s body goes through many challenges during pregnancy: sore breasts, hemorrhoids and, of course, stretch marks. When skin stretches beyond traditional boundaries, tears form in the derma and streaks appear across the surface. For many people, stretch marks are ugly, but not terribly painful. Pain associated with stretch marks usually comes from a secondary source. Pruritc urticarial papules, or plaques of pregnancy--PUPPP--shows up as red, itchy bumps over stretch marks. Other possible culprits include dry skin, irritation from an allergy or contact dermatitis. Whatever the cause of the pain you experience with stretch marks, the course of action will include a daily care plan and patience while you wait for the stretch marks to fade.
Bathe daily to keep the area clean. This is especially true if your stretch marks have sores or a rash over them. Wash the area regularly with a cleanser for sensitive skin.
Wear loose-fitting cotton clothing. This will allow air to reach the area. Restrictive cloth or synthetic materials may add to the irritation.
Apply a warm compress to painful spots. Warm compresses will provide some relief from pain and also may work to treat the cause of the pain, such as infection. Take a clean cloth and saturate it with hot water, as hot as you can stand it. Lay the compress over the irritated area. If the heat from the compress causes the skin to itch, try switching to warm or even cool water. Some forms of dermatitis and eczema are stimulated by heat.
Cover the stretch mark with a thick moisturizer. Select body creams and lotions designed for dry skin or eczema. As an alternative, use a solid vegetable shorting. Cover the affected area with a thick coating several times a day. This will help heal dry skin and also protect raw areas.
Take an over-the-counter antihistamine and a painkiller if needed. If you are breast-feeding, check with your doctor before taking any medication.
Use a hydrocortisone cream or prescription steroid. See your doctor and let him help you decide what medication is best for you. A steroid cream on the affected area may help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
If the stretch marks bleed or produce discharge, see you doctor for help. Open skin can lead to a very serious and possibly life threatening infection for both you and your baby.
Writing since 1999, Darla Ferrara is an award-winning author who specializes in health, diet, fitness and computer technology. She has been published in "Mezzo Magazine" and Diet Spotlight, as well as various online magazines. Ferrara studied biology and emergency medical technology at the University of Nebraska and Southeast Community College.