Itching during pregnancy is a normal symptom and the main reason behind it is the expansion of the uterus to accommodate the growing fetus, which finally leads to stretching of the skin. Other reasons are pregnancy hormones and changes in the liver. The skin can also itch during pregnancy because of the dryness. This article provides some information on the same.
Itching during pregnancy is absolutely benign and most women experience it in the second and third trimesters. It can occur in the body regions such as the soles of the feet or the palms of the hands. However, belly itching is the most common. It can be caused by various reasons.
- The most common cause of this condition is the growth of the uterus to lodge the new baby. As a result, the skin stretches and becomes itchy. The skin also itches when it is dry. Xerosis is the term used to describe the condition of dry skin.
- Some women develop skin rashes during maternity. Hormones produced during pregnancy act on the body, which is already overheated. The skin rubs against itself or against garments, and the skin perspires, becomes damp, which finally causes the rashes to appear. Such rashes are also known as prickly heat. They are slightly irritating and are most common in skin folds and creases.
- In the last trimester of maternity, some women develop large itchy patches on their bellies and other parts of the skin. This condition is known as pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP). This originates on the stomach and spreads to the other body parts like thighs and arms. It is characterized by excessive itching during maternity, however, it does not pose any risk to you and your baby. Only 1% of the pregnant women experience PUPPP, so it is advisable to get yourself medically diagnosed by a gynecologist to confirm whether your condition is actually PUPPP or not.
- Some develop a rare condition called prurigo. It results in the formation of small bumps on the body. It mostly occurs on the legs, hands, feet, and arms. It also does not cause any harm to you and your baby, but it’s certainly irritating.
- Some pregnant women develop yet another condition, which is known as pemphigoid gestationis. This condition is characterized by itchy eruption of hives. The hives forms lesions, which look like blisters. This condition indicates some complications as it may lead to fetal growth retardation and preterm delivery. It generally occurs during the third trimester, however, there are cases when it occurred at the start of maternity.
- Some expectant mothers may experience vaginal itching. It is mostly caused by a change in the pH level of the vagina. It can also be caused by sexually transmitted diseases, and microbial infections. Infections by yeast are quite common during maternity. It can result in moderate to severe itching.
- Intrahepatic cholestasis is another itching condition that occurs during this phase. Approximately, 2% of the pregnant women are affected by cholestasis. It results due to pooling of bile salts, a liver problem. Bile does not flow normally in the small ducts of the liver and accumulates in the body. This causes excessive itching. At times, the itching is so severe that women end up scratching the skin.
All the aforementioned conditions would clear shortly after childbirth and do not occur in subsequent pregnancies. However, intrahepatic cholestasis is an exception and generally occurs in further pregnancies too.
You can use some home remedies to treat this condition. However, it is recommended that before trying out anything on your own, you should first consult a medical practitioner to know the right cause and medical treatment for the problem. Once it is clear that the itching experienced is due to stages of pregnancy development, you can use some of the following ways to treat it.
- Avoid taking hot showers and baths as much as possible, as they further tend to dry up the skin. Use a mild unscented soap for bathing. Warm baths using oatmeal products have been reported to be soothing and comforting. Avoid scrubbing the skin with loofahs and body brushes. Instead, make use of gentle skin cleansing milk lotions.
- Apply plenty of good quality moisturizers on the itchy skin right after getting out of the bath when the skin is still wet. This helps the skin absorb more moisture. Apply superior quality skin products such as the one containing cocoa butter on the affected skin. Cocoa butter application especially on the abdomen prevents pregnancy stretch marks. Aloe vera extracts also greatly reduce the stretch marks.
- Apply a paste of baking soda with water and place a cold compress on the itchy area. It is very easing and relieving. Use of anti-itch cream like calamine lotion is also very effective.
- Always dress yourself in loose-fitting cotton clothes and stay away from synthetic clothes such as polyester as they tend to trap moisture.
- In order to treat vaginal itching, wear cotton panties and always keep yourself clean and dry. Refrain from douching and wipe the vagina from front to back to keep bacteria away.
- Drink adequate amount of water to keep your body hydrated and moisturized. Follow a balanced diet. Good nutrition always proves to be a blessing for the skin.
- In case of PUPPP, apply scentless powder on the skin folds such as beneath the breasts and between the thighs. It would reduce irritation.
This feminine condition is normal but no doubt, a frustrating side-effect of maternity. It is natural and a majority of the pregnant women experience it. Following the aforementioned measures might prove beneficial to minimize this problem. It is necessary to take care of yourself to experience a healthy, safe, and happy pregnancy.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.