Dry Skin During Pregnancy

What's causing your dry skin? Here are some pregnancy-safe ways to deal with it — and how to know if it could be a sign of a pregnancy health problem.
profile picture of C. Joseph Cadle, MD
ByC. Joseph Cadle, MD
OB-GYN
Updated
Mar 2017
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What is dry skin during pregnancy?

You’d think that so-called “pregnancy glow” meant your skin would be radiant, not reptilian. And yet for many expectant moms, your skin is becoming as dry and flaky as a molting lizard.

What could be causing my dry skin?

Credit a loss of bodily fluids, which are traveling from you to baby, as well as  hormonal changes that can have an effect on skin.

When should I go to the doctor with my dry skin during pregnancy?

If the dryness spreads from your abdomen to your arms and legs and is accompanied by red, itchy or raised patches, it could be a condition called  pruritic urticarial papules and plaques (PUPP of Pregnancy or PUPPP). It’s usually more annoying than anything else and will go away after delivery, but your doctor may be able to prescribe medication to ease your symptoms.

Dry skin can also be sign of dehydration, and that’s a problem, since being dehydrated can increase your chances for preterm labor. You should always mention any skin changes to your OB, so he can rule out any other health problems.

What should I do to treat my dry skin during pregnancy?

Staying hydrated (drink at least eight 8-oz. glasses of water a day) can help, as can gentle cleansers and moisturizers. In addition, try using a humidifier at night, which will add more moisture to your room (and thus your skin), or take a warm (not hot) oatmeal bath. You may also find that as your belly gets more and more balloon-shaped, the skin around it will stretch and tighten, which can also cause dryness and itching. Soothe your skin by rubbing in a gentle moisturizer on your abdomen, or try an anti-itch topical treatment like calamine lotion.

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