Itchy Skin during Pregnancy – Is this Normal?
Itchy skin can be a normal occurrence during pregnancy. However, this can also be more than just another pregnancy symptom. Thus, it is important to become observant with this symptom. You have to check whether the symptom has gone from being as mild itch to a severe one, as this can already be a sign of another condition.
A lot of pregnant women feel the urge to scratch the skin on their abdomen and breasts. This is a normal pregnancy symptom and this happens around the second as well as the third trimester of pregnancy. This symptom appears as you start to show and your belly expands to accommodate the growing fetus inside your uterus.
What is causing Your Itchy Skin while You Are Pregnant?
Itchy skin during pregnancy is caused by the hormonal changes that your body undergoes during this phase in your life. Moreover, this is also caused by the stretching of your skin, as your abdomen expands to accommodate the growing uterus. As the skin on your abdomen stretches and tightens, it will become dry and itchy.
There are other causes of itching during pregnancy. For instance, itching may be caused by allergies or a skin condition called eczema. You may develop one while you are pregnant. However, if you previously had it, it can get worse or perhaps better while you are pregnant. Skin itching during pregnancy may also be caused by scabies, which is a skin irritation caused by mites and thrush, which is a type of fungal infection.
Treating Skin Itchiness during Pregnancy
There are several things that you can do to soothe skin itchiness during pregnancy. Here are some ways on how you can do this.
Avoid Hot Showers and Warm Baths. It is recommended that you avoid hot showers and warm baths if you are suffering from itchy skin while you are pregnant, as this can make your skin dry and itchy.
Avoid Scratching Your Skin. If you feel itchy all over, you should avoid scratching your skin as much as possible. If you scratch your skin, chances are, stretch marks will develop.
Apply Cold Compress. If inflammation and redness accompanies the itchiness of your skin then you should apply ice pack or cold compress on the affected area as this can reduce inflammation and redness on the affected area.
Use Unscented Moisturizers and Lotions. You should also make a habit of using hydrating moisturizer or lotion on your skin. In addition, you should choose moisturizers that are unscented, as this type of moisturizer will less likely cause skin irritation.
Go For Colloidal Oatmeal Baths. Instead of hot showers and baths, you should consider taking colloidal oatmeal baths. This type of oatmeal is extremely fine grounded whole oats. This type of bath can actually relieve itchiness as well as soothe your skin. You can even create your own version of this type of bath. You can ground oats using a coffee grinder.
Wear Loose Fitting Cotton Clothes. You should carefully choose the clothes you wear when you are suffering from itchy skin while you are pregnancy. Wearing loose fitting cotton clothes will not irritate your skin as much.
Avoid Skin Care Products with Harsh Ingredients. You should avoid using skin care products that contain harsh ingredients and those that are heavily scented, as they can aggravate the itchiness of your skin. Instead, you should use mild and hypoallergenic skin care products.
Use Mild Soaps and Body Wash Solutions. To prevent the aggravation of this pregnancy symptom, you should make use of mild moisturizing soap when cleansing your skin. You should make sure that you go for those soaps that do not have a strong smell to avoid drying out your skin.
Utilize Mild Detergents. Another way to prevent your skin from drying out and becoming irritated is to use mild detergents when washing your clothes.
Use Doctor-Prescribed Skin Creams and Ointments. If you are suffering from severe itchiness, you should consult your health care provider. Your doctor can provide you with safe to use creams and ointments to relieve the itchiness and soothe your skin. You should not use over the counter medications without consulting your health care provider. This way, you are sure that the medications that you are using are safe for you and your baby.
Itchy Skin and Its Relation to Obstetric Cholestasis
In most cases, itchy skin tends to be a normal symptom of pregnancy and this will not affect your baby. However, there are rare cases when severe skin itchiness can occur in your third trimester. Severe skin itchiness can be a sign of a liver disease known as intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy or obstetric cholestasis. While the exact cause of this liver condition is not clear, this condition is commonly occurring in pregnant women of Asian and Indian ethnic origin.
In obstetric cholestasis, you will feel intensely itchy all over large parts of your body. The itchiness associated with this condition often affects the soles of the feet and the palms of the hand. In addition, the itchiness associated with the condition is often felt worse at night. There is no rash associated with this condition.
When Should You Consult Your Health Care Provider?
While skin itchiness is completely normal during pregnancy due to hormone changes and the stretching of your skin, severe ones warrant a trip for a medical consult. If you have severe itchiness, you may be having obstetric cholestasis and this is a complication that you should not overlook. In fact, this condition actually triples the risk of having stillbirths.
When you notice severe itchiness, you should seek medical consult right away. This way, your doctor can prescribe diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause of severe itchiness. If your severe itchiness is accompanied by other signs like dark colored urine, nausea and vomiting, fatigue and loss of appetite, you should seek help right away.