If you're pregnant and find yourself scratching away, it's important to understand the reasons behind this and seek suitable remedies.
Every pregnancy is different, but one common (and uncomfortable) symptom that many people experience is mild itching. If you're pregnant and find yourself scratching away, it's important to understand the reasons behind this and seek suitable remedies.
Let's guide you through the causes of itching during pregnancy and offer some practical tips to help ease the discomfort.
Why am I itching during pregnancy?
Although irritating, itching during pregnancy is common, especially on the bump, it can sometimes be a symptom of a liver condition called intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy or ICP.
If you're pregnant and experiencing itchiness, it’s good to let your midwife or doctor know so they can investigate and help alleviate any discomfort.
Let's run through some of the common causes of itching during pregnancy.
Increased blood supply
Mild itching can be caused by increased blood supply to the skin during pregnancy.
People who have eczema sometimes find that it gets worse during pregnancy.
Hormone levels are raised
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause a lot of issues – from mood swings and circulation problems to itchiness.
A growing bump
As your baby bump grows, the skin stretches, and sometimes your oil glands can't maintain their normal moisture level. This can make the skin on your legs and tummy tight, dry, and itchy.
You could have ICP
Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy or ICP is a liver disorder that requires medical attention. It usually starts at the beginning of the first trimester (from around 28 weeks of pregnancy) but can occur earlier.
What are the symptoms of ICP?
If you've has during a past pregnancy, there's an increased likelihood that it'll occur again in future pregnancies. The symptoms of ICP include:
- Itching without a rash
- Itching more on hands and feet: ICP is different from normal itching because it affects the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet.
- Itching that’s worse at night
- Jaundice: Yellowing of skin and eyes (this symptom is less common)
- Dark urine
- Pale stools
Itching in pregnancy with a rash
If you're itchy and have a rash, you could have a skin condition that’s known as polymorphic eruption of pregnancy or PEP.
If you think you have PEP, don’t worry. While it can be unpleasant and uncomfortable, it won't harm you or your baby, and it can be treated with the help of your doctor.
How to get relief from itching during pregnancy
We know that itchiness can be really irritating, so let's run through some ways to relieve it.
Wear loose clothes
Loose-fitting clothes made from natural materials like cotton will help to air circulate, keeping you cool and preventing itching.
Avoid irritating fabrics
Avoid clothes made of synthetic materials or wool.
Use unscented products
Check the ingredients of any skincare products you're using. Look out for strong perfumes because they can make your itching worse.
Apply moisturizer to the skin
Applying fragrance-free moisturizer or lotion can calm your skin. Try putting it in the fridge to cool it before applying!
Avoid certain foods
Alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods can affect blood flow and make itching worse.
Take a lukewarm shower
Taking cool showers can help soothe itchy skin, especially during the summer months.
Keep the air moist and cool
Using a humidifier and/or a fan can help to keep the air in your home moist and cool which can help dry, itchy skin.
Dehydrated skin is often itchy, but drinking plenty of water will help.