I had very itchy skin when I was pregnant, and it kept me tossing and turning at night. When I complained about it to my girlfriends who were pregnant before me, they just dismissed my complaints and told me to keep moisturizing my belly so I wouldn't scratch it. FYI, I still did.
So is itchy skin typical during pregnancy? Yes. Visit our Facebook group, Smart Parenting Village, and you will meet preggos complaining about it. During a Facebook Live Chat With Experts, obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Gergen Marie Lazaro-Dizon of Makati Medical Center says mild itching is common because of the increased blood supply to the skin. As your belly expands to accommodate your growing baby, the skin stretches, and this can cause itchiness. Having mild rashes is normal, too, according to Dr. Lazaro-Dizon who adds that it's mainly due to hormones.
While itchy skin or rashes may be typical during pregnancy, you should still have it checked by your doctor especially when rashes become "patches." Dr. Lazaro-Dizon explains it could be pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP)
The American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) describes PUPPP as a rare hives-like rash with the cause still unknown. But it has been linked to the stretching of the skin. PUPPP rashes appear first in the abdomen, usually inside stretch marks, and then it spreads to the legs, feet, arms, chest, and neck.
PUPP usually goes away after giving birth. And while it does not pose any risk to your unborn baby, the itch can be unbearable. "You have to consult a dermatologist so that she can give you medication for relief," the doctor suggests.
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Intense itchiness of the skin, especially in the hands and feet, can be a symptom of a common liver problem that occurs in pregnancy called intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) or cholestasis of pregnancy (CP).
According to What To Expect When You're Expecting, ICP happens when the normal flow of bile is affected by the pregnancy hormones. ICP usually starts in the third trimester, and a blood test or a liver test can confirm if you have it. It usually disappears after childbirth, but your doctor needs to monitor your pregnancy more closely if you have ICP. Having it increases the risk of fetal distress, preterm birth, and even stillbirths.
The itchy skin and rashes are pregnancy symptoms — it will not go away unless you give birth to your baby. They are, however, manageable. You can switch to a milder soap when bathing, take daily baths, minimize your sun exposure, and wear loose clothes or clothes made of breathable fabric.
Doctors may prescribe vitamin K as ICP may affect healthy blood clotting. Dr. Lazaro-Dizon assures preggos that it's safe to take anti-itch medications, such as antihistamines, round-the-clock to relieve itchiness and treat rashes. Topical creams or lotions are also safe, as long as they're prescribed by your ob-gyn and dermatologist who is aware of your pregnancy.