Skin irritations can pop up with zero warning, but most of the time are pretty minor in terms of discomfort and are easy enough to treat. PG, however, has been described as causing a severe burning and itching. Zuleika Closs, who experienced PG firsthand told a British daily, "At first, it felt like something was crawling on my skin but then it became unbearable." The physical appearance, as well as the significant discomfort PG causes, can definitely get in the way of day-to-day life, impacting work, as well as family and social interactions [source: Freiman].
The nature of the disease, coupled with its relative rarity, often confuses physicians who've never seen it before, leading to incorrect or delayed diagnoses and treatment. Doctors even told Closs that she had a rampant, contagious case of scabies, which she feared would be passed on to other people, including her baby [source: The Sun]. For the record, PG is not contagious, no matter how severe it looks. Generally, welts appear first, and diagnosis is made easier once the large, raised, fluid-filled blisters appear a couple of weeks later [source: AARDA]. Immunofluorescence, a technique that uses fluorescent dye to locate offending antibodies, helps to determine the level of severity. A dermatologist or an obstetrician typically makes the diagnosis [source: Huilaja et al.].
The disease is a dermatologic condition that usually rears its ugly head during the second or third trimesters (between 13 and 40 weeks), but sometimes appears earlier in pregnancy. Unfortunately, the end date is nearly as nebulous as the onset. Often, symptoms dissipate near the end of pregnancy, but can come roaring back near or during delivery. Even once the child is born, women have been known to experience flare-ups during their menstrual cycles, sometimes years after the fact [source: Freiman]. The use of oral contraceptives can also cause resurgence [source: EADV]. Think of it as the prenatal gift that keeps on giving, except that instead of something awesome like a new smartphone, it's a pair of itchy argyle socks.