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Itching During Pregnancy

Itching During Pregnancy

20 Nov 2018 | 6 min Read

Dr Mukesh Agrawal

Author | 5 Articles

Pregnancy brings about several bodily changes and new conditions like weight gain, a growing belly bump along with fatigue, mood swings and nausea. But have you heard of itching during pregnancy?

Whether you experience vaginal itching during pregnancy, itchy feet, or just itching all over, mild itching is one of the common pregnancy problems because the blood supply to the skin increases and the levels of certain chemicals in the blood increase when you are pregnant.

If the itching is mild, there’s nothing to worry about. However, if the itching becomes severe, it is recommended to consult a doctor. Here’s everything you need to know about itching during pregnancy and how to get relief from itching during pregnancy?

What Are The Types Of Itching During Pregnancy?

Mild body itching during pregnancy is a common symptom of pregnancy. The types of itching during pregnancy are:

  • Itching due to heat rash and hives
  • Itching due to atopic eruption of pregnancy
  • Itching due to pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) rash
  • Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP)
  • Impetigo herpetiformis
  • Pemphigoid gestationis

In addition to these, the following types of itching are also common:

  • Breasts itching during pregnancy: Itching of breasts is common because your skin is expanding, stretching, and drying out.
  • Vaginal itching during pregnancy: Expecting mums can also experience vaginal itching during pregnancy and itching around the urethra.
  • Anal itching during pregnancy: Anal itching is perhaps the most embarrassing. Just remember that your hormones are changing and with that comes a plethora of changes that you can’t control.

Causes of Itching during Pregnancy?

Some of the causes of itchy skin during pregnancy are:

  • Stretching skin: Research suggests that first pregnancies and pregnancies with multiples tend to cause the skin to stretch quite a bit more than it is used to.
  • Dryness: Changes in the hormone levels can cause itchy, flaky dry skin.
  • Hormones: The hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect everything from mood to circulation and cause dry and itchy skin during pregnancy.
  • Cholestasis: The pregnancy hormones can also induce liver dysfunction and result in a build-up of bile in the bloodstream and liver. This build-up leads to itching.

Itching during pregnancy in the 9th month can also be an indication of such a condition.

  • Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP): This is an itchy rash that occurs around the stretch marks during late pregnancy.
  • Prurigo: These itchy bumps on skin during pregnancy are common and can appear in any trimester.
Expecting mums can also experience itchy feet as the ligaments undergo some stretching because the feet bear the extra weight during pregnancy. | Image Source: pexels

Is Itching during Pregnancy Normal?

Yes, mild itching in pregnancy is normal. You might feel especially itchy around your belly and breasts as your skin stretches to accommodate their growth. Dry skin and hormonal changes contribute to the extra itchiness. In the winter, dry heat (especially from radiators) can also worsen the itching.

It is advisable to consult a doctor if you experience any discomfort due to severe itchy skin during pregnancy.

Complications of Itchy Skin during Pregnancy

Itching in the whole body during pregnancy can be a sign of a liver condition called intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP). Although it affects less than one in every 100 pregnant women, it requires medical treatment.

This itchiness is more severe and spreads to the palms of your hands and soles of your feet. Your doctor might advise you to check liver function tests and treat you accordingly.

How to Prevent Itching during Pregnancy?

Some of the ways to prevent itching during pregnancy are:

  • Take lukewarm showers and baths: Hot water can dry out your skin and can make the itching worse. Hence lukewarm showers are usually recommended. You can use mild, fragrance-free soap, and rinse it off well.
  • Stay as cool as possible: Try to avoid being outside for a long time in the heat of the day because heat can make itching worse.
  • Wear comfortable clothes. Loose cotton clothes are skin-friendly and don’t cause irritation to the skin.
  • Moisturise: You can slather fragrance-free lotion or cream after shower.
  • Lower your stress: Keep stress and anxiety at bay as these can actually make itching worse.

How to Relieve Itchy Skin during Pregnancy?

There are ways of relieving itchy skin during pregnancy:

  • Apply cold: Put an ice pack or a cool, wet compress on itchy areas for five to ten minutes to relieve itchiness.
  • Try loose-fitting socks if you experience itchy feet: Loose-fitting socks that are crafted from cotton will keep your itchy feet in comfort.
  • Foot massage for itchy feet: A foot massage can help distract your nerves and decrease itchiness. Stroke gently and avoid acupressure points on your feet, around your ankles, as some spots might stimulate uterine contractions.

You can also try a foot cream that deeply nourishes and hydrates your feet. This might help soothe your itchy feet.

  • Calamine lotion: Apply the calamine lotion at least two times a day and massage it well till it covers the entire area.
You can apply pure aloe vera gel directly to itchy areas for some relief. | Image Source: freepik

Are There Any Natural Treatments for Curing Itching during Pregnancy?

There are some tried and tested home remedies that can provide relief to itchy skin during pregnancy. Some of these are:

  • Aloe vera gel: You can apply pure aloe vera gel directly to itchy areas for some relief.

Its anti-inflammatory properties and inherent hydrating constituents moisturises the skin, making it soft, and soothing any itchiness as well.

  • Take an occasional warm oatmeal bath: You can use oatmeal in your bath up to two to three times a week as the soothing properties will provide relief to the itchy skin.
  • Coconut oil: Take a few drops of coconut oil and apply it on the affected areas. Massage it well for a few minutes until the oil has been completely absorbed by the skin.
  • A paste made out of gram flour: Take some gram flour (besan) in a bowl, and add oil and water to it. Mix it properly to form a paste and

use this paste on the affected area and let it dry. Wash it off after some time.

When to See Your Doctor About Itching during pregnancy?

It is advisable to consult a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe itching, including itchy feet
  • Itching that gets worse at night
  • Yellowish tinge to your skin or eyes
  • Dark urine and grey or pale bowel movements
  • Extreme pain on the right side of the upper abdomen
  • Nausea and upset stomach
  • Blisters, white spots and cracked and open areas

Conclusion

Itching during pregnancy isn’t very comfortable, and is one of those pregnancy symptoms that sneak up on you. Luckily, mild itching is usually nothing to worry about as it subsides after giving birth. The joy of being a mum and nurturing your unborn baby outweighs all the pain, sleepless nights, and even itchy skin.

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