A mother-to-be has described how 'chunks of skin' fell off her body while she was pregnant – and then she discovered she was allergic to her UNBORN BABY. Zuleika Closs, 26, developed a burning, itchy rash all over her body when she was 20 weeks pregnant with her son Emmanuel.
It's thought she has pemphigoid gestationis, a condition which affects one in two million women, It's caused by placenta tissue entering the mother's blood stream and reacting with her immune system.
Zuleika, from Falmouth, Cornwall, said: "At first, it felt like something was crawling on my skin but then it became unbearable. The blisters looked like nettle rash at first but spread really fast and became dark and red.
"My feet were the worst. I scratched so hard that large chunks of skin kept falling off. It was peeling off like orange peel."
At first, doctors thought Zuleika was suffering from scabies and told her to boil all her clothes and gave her antibiotics. But the rash didn't go and Zuleika became increasingly desperate.
"I was so itchy, I was scratching myself in my sleep. I was exhausted and couldn't cope," she said.
At 38 weeks, Zuleika went into labour but says she was scared to hold her baby because she thought she might pass the rash onto him.
She said: "Skin to skin contact is really important with newborns but I didn't want him to catch it. I blamed myself and thought it was something I'd done."
After Emmanuel was born, the rash died down but then days later it flared up again. This time, she saw a locum doctor who said he believed an auto-immune pregnancy disorder was to blame and put her on a strong dose of anti-histamines.
She said: "I couldn't believe what he was telling. I was allergic to my pregnancy. It just sounded bizarre."
Although the rash is now in remission, Zuleika has been warned it could return – and be even worse – if she gets pregnant again.
"Thinking about having another baby in the future terrifies me," she said.
"My body is already in a mess but I'd love Emmanuel to have brothers and sisters to grow up with."