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Erika Lenkert and Sarah Yang

Itchy Skin During Pregnancy

Itchy skin can be more than just another pregnancy symptom. We've got the details on how to figure out whether your itch is because of something scary (but totally treatable) or just a matter of your skin being stretched thin. Plus, how to make it go away!

What is itchy skin during pregnancy?

Does it seem like as your bump gets bigger, your skin gets itchier? You might feel the urge to scratch all over, but especially around your belly and breasts. This is totally common and normally happens around the second and third trimesters.

What could be causing my itchy skin during pregnancy?

As it stretches and tightens from your growing belly, your skin may feel dry and itchy. Your changing hormones may be causing the itching as well. If you have severe itching that spreads to your arms and legs, it could be pruritic urticarial papules and plaques during pregnancy (PUPPP). If you have PUPPP, you have itchy red spots on your skin. But it’s nothing to be worried about; it’ll go away after you give birth. Itchy skin can also be a symptom of allergies or cholestasis of pregnancy.

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

While itchy skin comes with the pregnancy territory, if you have severe itching—particularly on your hands and feet—late in pregnancy that’s accompanied by dark-colored urine, light-colored bowel movements, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and fatigue, talk to your doctor. They could be signs of cholestasis, a disease that affects the liver and that could also affect baby’s health.

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

Avoid hot showers and baths because they dry out your skin. You should moisturize a lot and go for unscented stuff, since it's less likely to irritate. You can also take colloidal oatmeal baths. Colloidal oatmeal is extremely fine-ground whole oats, which can relieve itches and soothe skin. You can make your own if you grind the heck out of oats with a coffee grinder (essentially to powder form) and drop a couple of cups’ worth into a warm bath. But you can just as easily buy Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment from your local drugstore. For optimum relief, make sure the bath is warm, not hot, and gently pat yourself dry afterward. Also, wearing loose-fitting cotton gear won’t irritate your skin as much.

Plus, more from The Bump:

Skin Problems During Pregnancy

Safe Skincare

Postbaby Skin and Hair