Itching During Pregnancy

Many expectant moms find that as their bellies expand and the skin stretches, they begin to experience bouts of itchiness. If this happens to you, take heart in knowing that there are ways to relieve the itching (and in some cases, stop it altogether).

Here are simple methods to soothe or stop the itching:

  1. Apply skin lotion (hypo-allergenic). Smooth it on the affected areas as often as possible to stay moist and comfortable.

  2. Try an anti-itch product. Calamine lotion, Eucerin® calming itch relief treatment, or Allegra® anti-itch cream are good choices in especially stubborn cases.

  3. Slather on some vitamin E . If your skin is flaky, rub vitamin E oil on the particularly itchy areas.

  4. Soak your body in skin soothers. Relax in a warm oatmeal bath.

  5. Turn on a humidifier. This will help prevent your skin from drying out. But be certain your humidifier is clean and sanitized to prevent the spread of germs.

  6. Don't scratch. Even though you might have a strong desire to scratch, muster up your greatest willpower. If you scratch sensitive areas, you will cause more itchiness and could damage your skin.

  7. Check with your M.D. If you're itching practically everywhere on your body and cannot seem to control the urge to scratch yourself, contact your doctor.

Causes of Itchiness during Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your skin becomes deprived of moisture as it stretches to accommodate your growing abdomen-resulting in itchiness. You may discover that this tingling is not only on your belly, but also on your rear-end and other places.

Another cause of skin changes is fluctuations in blood hormone levels, which affect both estrogen levels and melanocytes (the concentration of cells in the skin that dictate the amount of skin pigmentation).

Itchy skin can happen to anyone, of course-pregnant or not. Here are some other general causes of itchiness:

  • Cleansing the skin too much. This can cause dryness since the soap may remove oils that are essential to a healthy skin surface.

  • Allergies (e.g., hives). Triggers ranging from plants to food may be responsible.

  • Contact dermatitis. If you touch something to which your body reacts, your skin could become irritated and itchy. This condition commonly occurs in a work environment in which someone has contact with dyes, rubber, or inks. It could also happen from exposure to cosmetics or metals (i.e. jewelry).

Why Rashes Occur

The most common rash that occurs during pregnancy is called PUPPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy). It can happen in one out of every 300 pregnancies. A rash from PUPPP may develop during the third trimester, and is often found on the belly.

Some specialists say there is a link between this condition, fetal cells, and the immune system of the mother-to-be. PUPPP mostly shows up in first-time pregnancies and if you are carrying multiples (i.e. twins, triplets, etc.)-indicating that there may be a connection between skin-stretching and the immune system's response.

While the treatment for PUPPP is not specific, many expectant moms have found relief using antihistamines and topical steroids (medications applied to affected surfaces of the body). The good news is that within two or three weeks after delivery, this rash usually goes away on its own.

Skin disorders during pregnancy can include everything from viruses to infection to diseases spread from other parts of the body. Be sure to have your doctor rule out other health conditions, especially if you've tried remedies suggested here and continue to experience symptoms.

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