A young U.K. mother's horrific and mystifying rash may have been caused by her own unborn child, the Sun reports. The burning, itchy rash permanently scarred Dayle Byrom's skin.
“The pain got worse day by day. It started when I was 20 weeks’ pregnant and was at its worst at 30 weeks," Byrom, 20, said. "I couldn’t sit down or keep still. All I could do was itch and cry ... it felt like someone was ripping my skin off."
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Everyone seemed puzzled by the problem. Ten doctors later, Byrom still had no idea what was causing the torment. She tried antihistamine creams and protective gloves, all to no avail. The first-time mother even contemplated an abortion.
After her son, Jacob, was born in May, Byrom was referred to an allergy specialist. This dermatologist determined that testosterone produced while Jacob was in utero was likely the culprit.
Byrom's official diagnosis was Polymorphic Eruption of Pregnancy (PEP). Characterized by an itchy rash, PEP is a skin disorder that presents itself in some women during their first pregnancy, according to the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. The skin rash is also known as pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy.
PEP is still not fully understood by medical experts, the Daily Mail notes. A paper released in 2006 and published online through the National Institutes of Health pointed out that while PEP is proven to be caused by certain aspects of pregnancy, its "clinical characterization is controversial and its pathogenesis uncertain."
Director of Clinical Services at charity Allergy UK Maureen Jenkins told the Daily Mail that, "If there is an existing chronic condition, such as an allergy, pregnancy can have an effect. Some people experience really bad reactions, but sometimes the opposite is true and their symptoms improve."
According to the CDC, annually 6 million women in the U.S. give birth. Pregnancy is generally safe for the vast majority of women. However, as Byrom found out, the changes a women's body undergoes can also include complications that can range from mild and annoying to severe and even potentially fatal.
Looking back now, new mom Byrom has few regrets, despite the agony she endured. And while the scars from months of scratching have left Byrom so disfigured she doesn't go out in dresses or skirt anymore, she said said "having Jacob is still the best thing I’ve ever done."