Pregnancy causes a lot of diverse changes in the human body. Some changes are predictable, such as increase in weight, but numerous mothers-to-be never presume to experience itching during pregnancy. It is an uncomfortable experience and most notably an awkward moment, particularly if the itchiness occurs around their nipples.
Is it normal to feel itchy during pregnancy?
It’s not uncommon to feel itchy, particularly around your growing belly and breasts as your skin extends to accommodate them. Hormonal changes may likewise be partly to blame.
Some pregnant women find that their palms and the soles of their feet get red and often itchy. This condition may be caused by an increase in estrogen. It usually disappears right after delivery.
You might also find that things that typically make you itchy, such as dry skin, make you even itchier when you’re pregnant. Eczema often gets worse during pregnancy, though some women find that their condition actually improves. With psoriasis the scenario is reversed: Many women report less severe symptoms during pregnancy, while a few find that being pregnant makes their psoriasis even worse.
Lastly, there are certain conditions distinct to pregnancy that may cause you to develop extremely itchy rashes or to itch all over without a rash (see below).
Itching during pregnancy: treatments and home remedies
It depends in part on the cause. If your itchiness is simply from your skin stretching or being dry, these simple steps might be enough to give you some relief:
- Prevent hot showers and baths, which can dry out your skin and make the itching worse. Use mild, odorless soap (some aromas can cause inflammation) and make certain to rinse the soap off well and towel off lightly.
- Take a periodic warm oatmeal bath. (You can purchase oatmeal bath preparations in pharmacies.)
- Slather on unscented moisturizer after you’ve showered or bathed.
- Try putting cool, wet compresses on itchy areas.
- Prevent heading out in the heat of the day, because heat can heighten the itching.
- Wear loose, smooth cotton clothes.
If you have a serious rash or are exceptionally itchy, these measures alone will likely not suffice to give you sufficient relief. Talk to your caretaker. You might require topical or oral medication, or both.
When should I call my doctor or midwife?
Let your caregiver understand if you develop a brand-new rash during pregnancy, have a getting worse skin problem, or feel extremely itchy all over even if you do not have a rash. Your caretaker will want to see you for an evaluation so she can identify the problem, advise proper treatment, or potentially refer you to a dermatologist.
Some conditions that cause these symptoms can affect your baby’s well-being and require special tracking.
Can itching be due to a problem with my pregnancy?
Severe irritation in the 2nd or, more typically, the third trimester can be a sign of intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP), a liver issue that affects approximately 1 percent of pregnant women in the United States.
When bile does not stream generally in the small ducts of your liver, bile salts build up in your skin, makings you itchy. The itching might impact your soles and palms first, however it can happen anywhere, and many women with ICP feel itchy all over. The irritation can be extremely extreme and is usually worse at night.
Itching is the only symptom at first. The condition itself does not cause a rash, however you might end up with red, inflamed skin with little cuts in areas where you’re scratching a lot. Some women have other symptoms, too, such as loss of appetite, mild queasiness, and malaise. A minority of women develop mild jaundice.
Call your doctor or midwife if you think you have cholestasis since it might spell difficulty for your baby. You caregiver will want to assess you and do some blood tests to help make the diagnosis.
ICP increases the risk of stillbirth, so you’ll have periodic ultrasounds and fetal heart keeping an eye on to check on your baby. You’ll also continue to get blood tests to examine your liver function. You’ll likely be treated with a medication that may assist with liver function and reduce the itching and other symptoms you might have. The medication might perhaps decrease your baby’s risk also.
If the ultrasound or heart tracking shows there’s a problem, you’ll be delivered without hold-up. Otherwise, depending on how you and your baby are doing and how far along you remain in pregnancy, delivery may wait on a bit to give your baby more time to grow. It’s most likely, though, that you’ll be induced before your due date.
This issue disappears after you deliver your baby, normally in a day or 2, though it might take about a week. ICP frequently happens once again in a subsequent pregnancy, so be sure to alert your caretaker. By the way, some women who have had ICP can also develop a similar issue with itching and liver impairment if they use hormonal birth control.