Itching in pregnancy: causes and remedies

What are the causes of itching in pregnancy? What can be done to relieve it and when is it good to go to the doctor?

Itching in pregnancy is a rather common disorder, affecting about 20% of expectant mothers. It tends to mainly involve the belly and breasts (including the nipples ), where the  skin is subjected to considerable stretching, due to the progressive increase in volume of the uterus and mammary glands.

However, the itchy sensation can also occur in other areas of the body , including:

  • the legs
  • the navel
  • hands _
  • the feet

Itching in pregnancy: when does it appear and why?

First quarter

Itching can appear as early as early pregnancy . The cause is usually increased blood flow to the tissues, which in turn is caused by hormonal changes.

In this phase, it is typical to feel especially itchy breasts or nipples , which from the first weeks increase in volume and begin to prepare for breastfeeding.

Second and third trimester

In the second trimester , you may start to feel itchy in the belly and breasts , due to the progressive enlargement of the abdomen and mammary glands .

This disorder, however, tends to appear especially in the third trimester and at the end of pregnancy , when the stretching of the skin is maximum.

Furthermore, its onset is favored by dry skin , which in turn is due to the hormones of pregnancy.

How to relieve itching in pregnancy?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to completely prevent this ailment. However, there are several remedies for itching in pregnancy . Let’s see together which ones.

  • Apply ice for 5-10 minutes to the areas where itchiness is felt. This little trick should provide temporary relief.
  • Use a pregnancy-friendly moisturizer to combat dryness and loss of skin elasticity. In particular, the application of a Vitamin E-based oil can be a real cure-all for relieving itching.
  • Avoid baths or showers that are too hot and prolonged , to prevent excessive dehydration of the skin.
  • Use a delicate cleanser for sensitive skin , not too foamy and fragrance-free, to be rinsed thoroughly before drying. To reduce itching, it can also be very useful to immerse yourself in a bath of warm water and colloidal oatmeal for a few minutes , which helps to rebalance the pH of the skin.
  • Stay in a cool and ventilated environment . On the contrary, it is better to avoid going out in the middle of the day, because the heat can make itching worse.
  • Wear comfortable clothing in natural fibers to prevent excessive rubbing and irritation and to promote natural perspiration. In particular, the use of cotton briefs can help prevent the appearance of any vaginal infections, which can cause intimate itching .
  • Drink often : hydrating the skin “from within” is essential to counteract skin dryness .
  • Slow down : Anxiety and stress can contribute to making this symptom worse.

Itching in pregnancy: when to worry?

It is completely normal to suffer from mild to moderate itching during pregnancy and, apart from the feeling of discomfort, it has no serious consequences for both mother and baby .

In rarer cases, however, this symptom may signal the presence of a medical condition or complication (such as cholestasis of pregnancy or PUPP ) that requires a doctor’s evaluation and monitoring or appropriate treatment.

For this reason, it is essential to contact your trusted gynecologist if any of the following conditions occur:

  • itching during pregnancy is intense or occurs all over the body (especially on the hands and feet );
  • red dots appear on the skin (rash) associated with itching.

In these cases, the doctor may request in -depth tests or a consultation with a dermatologist , to diagnose the problem and prescribe the most suitable therapies.

Kathryn Barlow is an OB/GYN doctor, which is the medical specialty that deals with the care of women's reproductive health, including pregnancy and childbirth.

Obstetricians provide care to women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, while gynecologists focus on the health of the female reproductive system, including the ovaries, uterus, vagina, and breasts. OB/GYN doctors are trained to provide medical and surgical care for a wide range of conditions related to women's reproductive health.

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