Significant hormonal changes lead to a rollercoaster of discoveries during pregnancy. Though a blessing, pregnancy brings with it a number of challenges. Itchy skin during pregnancy is one commonly occurring challenge many a pregnant woman faces.
What are the causes of itchy skin during pregnancy?
That super-annoying itch is caused by your skin stretching. As your uterus grows to accommodate the growing baby, the skin around your belly stretches, yet the oil glands cannot meet their normal moisture requirement. This is what leads to dry and itchy skin. And, it is often your tummy and legs that get the brunt of this change. Your changing hormones also play a significant role in making the itch worse.
What should you do when you struggle with an itchy pregnant belly?
While it is always preferable to visit your doctor to seek treatment, there is no harm in trying some home remedies for itchy pregnant belly that will ease and soothe your itchy skin.
Mild itching can be prevented by wearing comfortable, loose clothes in breathable materials like cotton to let air circulate.
- You could also try bathing with cold water and applying moisturiser or lotion, especially after a bath, to aid in pregnancy itch relief. In case of damaged or inflamed skin, it would be prudent to dab your skin dry instead of rubbing it dry after contact with water.
- It would be wise to avoid any strongly perfumed products as they can make your itch worse.
- Avoid factors that promote dryness of the skin and use mild soaps, moisturizing cleansing bars, and shower or bathing oils to preserve the moisture in the skin.
- Medicine for itching during pregnancy: Topical gels containing antipruritic additives such as menthol, camphor, and polidocanol can be used to relieve the itchiness.
- It is better to use mild/moderate topical corticosteroids over their potent systemic counterparts to prevent the risk to the fetus.
- Older antihistamines (e.g., dimetindene) are considered safe to aid in pregnancy itch relief.
- It is vital that you consult and seek advice from your gynaecologist before taking any medications.
Complications of itchy skin during pregnancy
It is necessary to watch out for itching during the evening or at night, as it could be a sign of a serious condition. Itching may be a symptom of a liver condition called intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP), also known as obstetric cholestasis (OC). This itchiness is more severe and also spreads to the palms of your hands and soles of your feet. Your doctor may advise you to check liver function tests and treat you accordingly.
Other conditions associated with skin itchiness during pregnancy include polymorphic eruption of pregnancy, an atopic eruption of pregnancy and prurigo. It is always wise to consult your physician in case of severe itchy rash during pregnancy.
Also read: Is Swelling During Pregnancy Normal?