Itching During Pregnancy

Pregnancy will cause a variety of changes throughout the body, including the skin. Some find that the amount of blemishes they experience changes during this time, but one of the most common symptoms of pregnancy is itching skin. Many women find that as their pregnancy develops, their skin gets progressively itchier, particularly around the breasts and belly. This is a very common side effect, particularly in the second and third trimesters. There are a variety of treatment options for itchy skin during pregnancy which will vary based on the root cause. In most cases, the itching will disappear once you deliver your baby.

Itching During Pregnancy—Is It Normal?

Itchiness is common during pregnancy, as the skin on your abdomen stretches to accommodate your growing baby. Changes in estrogen can also cause the skin on your palms and soles of the feet to get red and itchy. Those that were prone to dry skin or psoriasis before they became pregnant may find that their symptoms become worse during pregnancy. These symptoms should subside once you have given birth. There are some conditions which can cause you to develop a rash while pregnant, but these will need to be evaluated by your doctor.

What Causes Itching During Pregnancy?

There are several conditions which can affect the skin during pregnancy, leading to itchiness or increased sensitivity until your baby is born.

Causes

Descriptions

General rash

A variety of conditions can cause red bumps or rashes to appear on your skin during pregnancy. Women often develop heat rash because the increase in hormones during pregnancy can affect the sweat glands. These rashes are harmless, but if the rash is accompanied by symptoms such as wheezing, you should contact a medical professional to ensure you are not having an allergic reaction.

High estrogen levels

Pregnancy increases estrogen levels which can cause temporary itchiness on the hands and feet. This may be accompanied by redness.

Stretching

Your abdomen will need to stretch in order to accommodate your growing baby, which means the glands under the skin will need to adjust to keep your skin moist. As your body works to manage these changes, you may experience dryness which can make your skin itchy. If you develop stretch marks, it can also cause your skin to itch or feel uncomfortable.

PUPPP

Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy is a rash that around 1 percent of all pregnant women experience. This will cause itchy red bumps to appear on your belly. There can be just a few or large patches which can spread to the buttocks, thighs and arms. This is most common in the third trimester and is not a cause for concern. This condition should fade a few days after delivery, but if it is causing severe discomfort, it can be treated with a topical steroid.

Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy

If the itchiness has appeared in the third trimester, it could be a sign of a liver condition known as intrahepatic cholestasis. This condition causes a block which prevents bile from flowing through the liver ducts properly, leading to salt buildup in the skin which causes redness and itchiness. This condition occurs in less than 1 percent of pregnancies.

Other causes

Those that suffered from allergies or skin conditions before pregnancy may see an increase in their symptoms during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor before using your usual remedies since some medications are not safe for pregnant women to use.

How to Soothe My Itchy Skin During Pregnancy

1. Use Mild Detergents

If you are experiencing itchiness, try to avoid things that will make the problem worse. Switch to mild soaps and detergents that are free of irritants such as a pH balancing solution and those that are perfume-free.

2. Avoid Overheating

Getting too warm can make your itchiness worse, so try to wear breathable clothing and avoid going out on hot days to avoid excess irritation. Also avoid excessively hot baths or showers. Overheating can also be dangerous for your baby.

3. Apply Mild Moisturizers

If your skin is dry, try using mild moisturizers to get relief. Adding oatmeal to your bath or applying calamine lotion is known for relieving itchy patches and are safe remedies for those that are pregnant. You can ask your doctor for a cream or ointment to address a rash to ensure the mediations you are using safe during pregnancy.

4. Use a Humidifier

Some find that they are experiencing itchiness because their skin is too dry. You can use a humidifier to keep the skin from drying, but you should take caution as these can spread allergens and germs if you do not manage your humidifier properly. Read all instructions from the manufacturer before starting your humidifier and work to keep the machine as clean as possible during use. Also avoid running the humidifier constantly as this can increase irritation.

If you would like to know more about how to soothe your itching skin during pregnancy, you can watch the video below:

Will Itching Affect My Baby?

Itchy skin should not be harmful to your baby, but if you are experiencing intense itchiness all over your body during your third trimester, you may be experiencing a condition known as obstetric cholestasis which could be harmful. Symptoms of this include itching on the palms and soles of the feet without a rash, pare colored stool or dark urine. You may also find that you are itchier at night.

Obstetric cholestasis is caused when bile salts leak into the bloodstream, though the full causes of this condition are unknown. Your doctor or midwife can run blood tests to check for this condition and prescribe medication if it suspected that you have OC. Those that have this condition are at a higher risk for premature labor. You may also need to have your labor induced to ensure that the excess bile salts do not cause your baby harm. Once you are diagnosed, your doctor can monitor your child to determine what extra steps might need to be taken to ensure the safety of you and your child.