Skin discomfort or itchiness is a common occurrence for expectant mothers, especially in their third trimester. It is one of the ways a pregnant woman’s body adapts to changes as the baby grows and the uterus expands. Let’s look deeper into this and ways to manage it.
Mild to Extreme Itching
Mild itching is the most common and should not be a cause to worry. This is because it clears with common home remedies.
Persistent itchiness could, however, signify an illness such as obstetric cholestasis (OC), also known as intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) (a serious liver disorder). This is especially if it’s accompanied by the following signs:
- dark urine
- yellowing of the skin & white eyes (jaundice)
- pale bowel movements
- widespread itching which get unbearable at night
What Causes Skin Itchiness in Pregnancy?
Itchiness can be caused by any of the following:-
- changes in hormones estrogen and progestin levels,
- skin dryness triggered by the belly stretching due to baby’s growth
- increased pregnancy weight
- compromised outflow of bilirubin and bile acids from the liver
Folded areas are the most probable to have irritations, like under the breasts, armpits, hands, feet, abdomen and groin.
Remedies for Itchiness During Pregnancy
To curb and get a temporary relief pregnant women tend to scratch and this can be embarrassing especially in public places.
Nevertheless, there are some well-known traditional remedies that are tried and established as practical to ease itchiness during pregnancy like;-
- taking a quick, warm shower
- Wearing loose clothes, preferably cotton
- Using a mild, sensitive pregnant skin moisturizer, natural soap or cream to maintain elasticity
It’s important to note that regular anti-itch medication such as Benadryl may not provide relief in some severe cases of itchiness. Read more on 6 ways your body changes during pregnancy
Should I Be Worried About the Baby?
Skin irritation and rashes will not harm the baby as the symptoms should go away after birth. However, consult with your doctor in severe cases as they may cause stillbirths, preterm births or fetal distress.
Seeing a Doctor
Your doctor may do a blood test to establish whether you are suffering from obstetric cholestasis if you are experiencing extreme itchiness. You may also be placed on medication to monitor the baby’s progress until delivery.
Please note that development differs from one child to another.
Content intended for educational purposes only, and not a substitute for medical advice from your doctor.
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Last reviewed March 2019.
Sources: americanpregnancy, babycentre, cussonsbaby, parenting.firstcry, howkenya, babylovenetwork