Itching during pregnancy? You’re not alone.
Itching during pregnancy and vaginal itching during pregnancy are just two of all kinds of symptoms pregnant people experience.
Pregnancy comes with all kinds of common discomforts including; acne, back pain and sciatica, belly pain, pelvic pain, sore breasts, congestion, nosebleeds, constipation, sleep problems and fatigue – to name just a few.
Itching, though, can be one of the most frustrating and relentless symptoms.
If you’re experiencing itching during pregnancy, including vaginal itching during pregnancy, we’ve got plenty of information, tips and pointers to help you.
Let’s take a closer look at this annoying pregnancy symptom and what to do about it:
What Causes Itching During Pregnancy?
There are multiple reasons that you can feel itching during pregnancy, some of which are more serious than others:
Eczema affects about 31.6 million people in the USA and if you have it when you get pregnant it can get worse or better. If it gets worse, you’ll find yourself itching a lot in the areas you get eczema and this is called atopic eruption of pregnancy. Other symptoms that come under this umbrella include prurigo of pregnancy (papule rashes) and pruritic folliculitis of pregnancy, which causes pimples like acne pimples.
Your skin stretches naturally during pregnancy as your breast and belly expand to accommodate milk and your baby. You may also find other areas like your ankles swell because of fluid retention. Any area that increases in weight quickly could become itchy. When this stretching occurs, you may also get something called a PUPPP rash which happens in about 1 in every 160 pregnancies. It is where the tissues under the skin are damaged as it stretches,
Hormones can contribute to dry skin, which can be itchy. This could be all over, or in certain areas of your body.
Heat rashes during pregnancy can be itchy and they can occur because you’re more sweaty, or because you’re more sensitive to the temperature around you.
Hives can occur during pregnancy because of stress, skin pressure or heat. They can be treated easily with a cold compress or something similar, but if they are extreme and seem to be part of an allergic reaction, you need to get medical help quickly.
The hormones during your pregnancy can cause you to get acne, which can be itchy or sore.
Itching during pregnancy can be caused by something called intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) and it happens to about 1-2 in 1,000 women when they are pregnant. It is a liver disorder that occurs because bile acids that usually travel from your liver to your gut to help with food digestion, stop flowing as they should.
Common risks for this condition include:
- ICP running in your family
- Being of South Asian origin
- Having experienced it in previous pregnancies
The key symptoms for this condition compared to less serious itching are:
- Constant itching all over
- Sometimes itching so bad it feels unbearable
- Itching worse on the soles of your feet and palms of your hands
- Itching that tends to get worse in the evening
Of course, everybody is different and the symptoms are not the same for everybody. For that reason it makes sense to mention itching to your midwife or doctor at your next checkup just to make sure you don’t need further investigations.
How To Prevent And Deal With Itchy Skin During Pregnancy
You may not be able to prevent itching during pregnancy, which is bad news, but it’s always better to be prepared that it could happen. If it does happen, there’s plenty you can do to alleviate your symptoms.
Here are some actions you can take to minimise and deal with the chance of some types of pregnancy itching, and including:
- Avoid hot water – You’re meant to avoid very hot baths and showers during pregnancy for the health of the baby, but doing this also helps you avoid drying the skin out. Keeping the water temperature lukewarm ensures you can maintain your hygiene but without causing itching to get worse.
- Avoid perfumed products – Products that are heavily fragranced can irritate your skin during pregnancy. This is especially true for vaginal itching during pregnancy. Your vagina is self cleaning and so it won’t take much to change the PH within it. Something as simple as cutting out heavily perfumed bath bombs, shower gels and wipes can stop vaginal itching during pregnancy and it can help when you’re not pregnant too.
- Cool down – Stay as cool as you can, especially during heatwaves.
- Relax – Try to stay as relaxed and stress-free as you can because those feelings can make itching worse. This Youtube meditation is a great example of resources you can use to take a moment to reduce the stress in your life. If you think you are one of the 12-15% of women suffering anxiety, or 20% suffering depression during pregnancy, it’s a good idea to speak to your healthcare provider.
- Wear loose clothes – You can continue to look beautiful during pregnancy with loose clothing like maxi dresses, pregnancy leggings and loose T-shirt’s. This loose clothing can help you avoid any chafing or rubbing that makes itching worse.
Experiencing Itching During Pregnancy? Speak To Your Doctor
The golden rule if you are experiencing itching during pregnancy is to speak to your doctor just to make sure there isn’t a wider medical issue that needs addressing.
In addition, the tips above are just some of the ways to prevent or alleviate your symptoms during this challenging time.
What you’re going through is common, but nonetheless really difficult so it’s important to seek advice and help so you don’t suffer in silence.