Why Do I Have a Rash On My Stomach After a C-Section?

Why Do I Have a Rash On My Stomach After a C-Section?

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C-sections come with a wide range of things that we usually aren’t expecting. This is particular true if it’s the first time that you’ve had a C-section.

I’ve never had one, but my daughter did have an emergency C-section with my grandson. My sister also had a C-section when she had my nephew, and I moved in with her for two weeks to help care for her and the babies.

One thing that can happen after this surgery is that you’ll develop a rash. 

Rash On Belly After C-Section Causes

There are several different things that can cause a rash on your stomach after a C-section. Most of them are nothing to worry about.

A few of these causes are rare or serious, but you’ll easily be able to tell whether you should worry or not. It is important to note that if you develop a sudden rash, you should talk to your doctor to help rule out serious medical conditions. 

Allergic Reaction

An allergic reaction is a common cause of a rash. Sometimes, that rash happens to develop on your belly even if it is due to medication, such as the pain medication that they give you after you have a C-section. 

You might also be having an allergic reaction to the cleaning solution that they use before or after surgery. They use a bit more than just soap and water. Sometimes, your body doesn’t react well to that.

If you’ve never had a C-section before, you might be allergic to the solution they use for sterilization and not know it yet.

When this is the reason behind the rash after C-section, you’ll notice that the rash is usually in a rectangle in the area that they put the solution on. A dose of steroids should clear it right up!

rash stomach

PUPPP 

PUPPP stands for pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, hence the nickname and why everyone calls it PUPPP instead.

This condition is characterized by an itchy rash, so it’s usually the first thing that people think of. PUPPP only occurs in your first pregnancy, though. It also occurs during pregnancy for most people. 

There are very rare cases of PUPPP occurring in postpartum women. Some women report that the rash began shortly before giving birth, and continued while they were postpartum.

Others report that the PUPPP rash did not start until after they gave birth. Other symptoms of PUPPP include: 

  • The rash looks like small, pink pimples
  • The rash will start inside stretch marks
  • It spreads rapidly and may spread to extremities in 2-3 days
  • The rash may resemble hives if the rash starts to spread to the point that it comes together

PUPPP is not dangerous for you or your baby. In fact, there are no long-term consequences that you need to be concerned about.

Treatments usually consist of anti-itch creams, home remedies to make it more bearable, and steroid creams. It is not clear what causes PUPPP, so most treatments focus on making you more comfortable. 

Infection

Although doctors take great care to sterilize everything, there is always the risk that you will develop an infection.

This can be spotted by the area being warm to the touch, drainage that is considered abnormal at the location of the incision, fever, and possible chills. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to contact your doctor as soon as possible. 

It Might Be Red From Scratching

I have a bad habit of scratching things that itch in my sleep. This included my stomach when I was pregnant. I would wake up and the entire area would be red.

If your stomach is particularly itchy, as most are when they are healing, keep an eye on the area to make sure that it’s a rash and not simply red in the morning from scratching. 

Hives Are Relatively Common

There are a number of things that can cause hives, including stress. (I get stress-induced hives along my jawline.) If your rash is itchy and looks like hives, it more than likely is.

Most doctors recommend Benedryl for this condition. It can help with the itching, making you a little bit more comfortable until the hives go away. 

Hormonal Imbalance Can Make You More Likely To Develop Hives

When you finally have a C-section, your body begins the process of returning to normal. This includes a roller coaster of emotions that comes because your hormones are attempting to balance themselves out.

However, it can take them some time to get back to pre-pregnancy levels. You’ll notice that you have many symptoms of a hormonal imbalance like you did when you were pregnant. 

This can also affect your immune system. Even though you’ve never had allergies before, things like dust or pollen might suddenly bother you.

As your body adjusts, it can become more sensitive to everything around you, including things like laundry soap. Because of this, postpartum hives are typically considered normal. 

Rash On Belly After C-Section Treatment

If you have a rash on your belly after a C-section,  treatment will center around finding relief for the itching provided there is not a serious underlying cause, such as an infection.

There are several different things that you can try. Remember, what works for one person will not necessarily work for another one. 

Benedryl

Benedryl is a popular choice for many people. Antihistamines can help with reducing the itchiness from hives, bug bites, and allergic rashes.

If your skin is itchy, and you can take Benedryl, this is a great option. They make both creams and pills. If you’ve never taken Benedryl before, be forewarned that it can make you drowsy. 

Oatmeal Bath

Oatmeal baths are a popular choice for soothing everything from rashes to burns. There are now oatmeal baths that come premeasured for a single bath.

You simply run your bath water, pour in the colloidal oatmeal, and stir it up with your hand. For itchy rashes, this usually provides short-term relief, though.

You’ll need to do something else in addition to this to manage your symptoms until the rash resolves itself. 

Cold Compresses

Applying a cold compress can provide almost instant relief. It’s a bit unrealistic to do this all day, every day, but it can work wonders if you’re going crazy, and still have to wait for the Benedryl to kick in.

You can also use a cold compress while you are laying around the house. Throwing a towel in the freezer, using an ice pack, or utilizing a cold compress you bought will all work. 

Baking Soda Bath

Baking soda has long been a home remedy for itchy rashes from poison ivy to hives to random itchy rashes. To use this home remedy, run the warm bathwater.

Dump 1-2 cups of baking soda into the bath, and mix well. You can do this by stirring the water with your hand or a large mixing spoon. Then, soak for 20 minutes.

Finally, rinse off and pat yourself dry. This should help soothe the itchy rash for at least a few hours at a time. 

Soothe Inflamed Skin

Often, itchy rashes and hives are accompanied by inflammation. This makes the rash worse than it was before. To help minimize your discomfort, consider using an anti-inflammatory home remedy. Products that you can use include: 

  • Sunflower oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Olive oil

All of these will help reduce the inflammation of your rash. Most of them, with the exception of tea tree oil, also act as a moisturizer. This can provide even more relief if you have dry, itchy skin. 

Steroid Creams

A common solution for this rash is for a doctor to call in a dose of steroid creams. Steroid creams can help you start feeling better.

Typically, the rash will clear up much faster with the use of these. You might need to do something for the itching in the meantime though. 

Cropped shot of obstetrician gynecologist consulting pregnant woman at ultrasound scanning office

When Should You Call The Doctor If You Have A Rash After A C-Section?

You should call the doctor as soon as you notice a rash. They can identify signs of an infection, and help you determine if you are having an allergic reaction to something that was used during the surgery.

Your doctor can also help you find something that works to help relieve your symptoms until your rash goes away. This may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. 

In Conclusion

Typically, a rash after a C-section is a normal occurrence. This could be from an allergic reaction, postpartum hives, or simply due to allergies.

It’s always good practice to double-check with your doctor, though. Try home remedies to soothe itching until the rash goes away on its own. 

Medical Disclaimer. All content and media on the MomInformed Website is created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.

My name is Amber Dixon. I am a mother to three wonderful children, and recently welcomed a beautiful grandson into the world as well as into my home. I've learned a great deal about raising children through my own experiences as a mother, but also from several other places. While working at a daycare full time, I learned about childhood development, teaching children, and more. Through earning degrees in Social Work, I was educated about human development, including a great deal about children and childhood development. My education and experience combined have taught me a lot about children of every stage and age, and I hope that I can help you on your journey to becoming the best parent that you can be!

My name is Amber Dixon. I am a mother to three wonderful children, and recently welcomed a beautiful grandson into the world as well as into my home. I've learned a great deal about raising children through my own experiences as a mother, but also from several other places. While working at a daycare full time, I learned about childhood development, teaching children, and more. Through earning degrees in Social Work, I was educated about human development, including a great deal about children and childhood development. My education and experience combined have taught me a lot about children of every stage and age, and I hope that I can help you on your journey to becoming the best parent that you can be!