No, we aren’t talking about that itch to get pregnant, although many people experience that too. We are talking about itchiness during pregnancy. There are several causes of itchiness during pregnancy and while most are common, some are not.
What Makes You Itch?
1. Stretching Skin
The reality is, even if you don’t get stretch marks, your skin is stretching as your belly grows. It is also common for other areas to stretch such as your breasts, hips, and thighs. As your skin stretches, it can become quite itchy. While not serious, this itchiness can be really annoying! Moisturizing creams, vitamin e, or other plant-based massage oils can all help to lubricate your skin and reduce the itchiness.
2. Increased Sensitivity
During pregnancy, many people find that they are more sensitive to things that only bothered them a little, or not at all, before. Not quite allergies, you may find that things like clothing tags, itchy fabric, or even your hair can cause an annoying itch during your pregnancy.
Did you know that your allergies can change over the course of your life? Allergies in childhood may disappear, or get worse, as you age. Major hormonal shifts and life changes can also affect your allergies. Many people find that their allergies change during pregnancy. Things that may have been fine before, like your laundry detergent, toiletries, and makeup, may suddenly cause allergic reactions. Other allergies that were mild before pregnancy may suddenly become more severe. For some people this increased sensitivity goes away after birth, for others, it becomes part of their body chemistry. One of the most common dermatological allergic reactions is for you to itch, which may be accompanied by hives or a rash.
PUPPS is an extremely common rash that develops during pregnancy. Some estimates place PUPPS
at 1 in 250 pregnancies, with first pregnancies making up approximately 75% of those cases. This small, red, bumpy rash often develops on the torso first, in the striations of stretch marks. Once it develops there, however, it can spread to anywhere on the body. This rash is extremely itchy, without much relief from creams. The cure is giving birth, but there isn’t much that can help relieve the itchiness during pregnancy.
Cholestasis is a serious pregnancy complication that affects roughly 1 in 1000 pregnancies. It occurs when liver function is impaired and bile acids build up and spill into the bloodstream. It is most common in the third trimester but can occur earlier. Cholestasis with one pregnancy increases the chances of it occurring in subsequent pregnancies. The itch caused by cholestasis is extreme and there is very little that can be done to relieve it. The cure for cholestasis is delivery, and most individuals with this condition will be diagnosed between 36 and 37 weeks as health risks increase dramatically after that point.
While most causes of itchiness in pregnancy are benign, if irritating, it is always worth mentioning to your health care provider. Your doctor or midwife may be able to recommend specific creams, anti-histamines, or other treatments that may help to relieve your symptoms safely.