About 20 percent of pregnant women have itchy skin. In most cases, mild itching is normal during pregnancy.
Skin irritation mostly starts around week 23 of pregnancy, when you are starting to show and get more pronounced as your belly continues to grow. Dryness of the skin and hormonal changes may also contribute.
It may be difficult to prevent itchy skin entirely, but these tips might minimize itching during pregnancy:
Don’t scratch: Try your best not to scratch since that can irritate your skin further and raise the risk of skin infections.
Moisturize: You may apply a light, gentle, fragrance-free lotion or cream after taking a shower or bath. Try keeping the lotion in the fridge so that moisturizing your skin also feels cooling. Cream with 8-10% Uria often works well.
Smooth on vitamin E oil: This has healing properties, and is also great for sore nipples after pregnancy.
Apply cold: You can put an ice pack or a cool, wet compress on itchy areas for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the itch fades.
Stay cool: It is advisable to avoid going out in the heat of the day because heat can worsen the itching. Put on comfy clothing. Loose, smooth cotton clothing prevents your skin from getting irritated.
Lower your stress: Make efforts to reduce your stress and anxiety; they can make the itching worse.
Medication: Your pharmacist or doctor may prescribe a topical medication to apply onto your skin. If that is the case, apply it as instructed and then moisturize your whole body, even the areas of skin treated with medication.
Do you have PUPPP?
A very itchy rash on your belly, especially in the third trimester, could be pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP), an annoying but treatable pregnancy symptom that occurs in one of every 150 pregnancies.
When to contact your doctor?
Contact your midwife or doctor if you have an itchy rash or severely itchy palms or soles of your feet, or if you’re feeling itchiness on other parts of your body not related to dry or sensitive skin.
Dr. Wanwadee Sapmee Panyakat, MD. (27 June 2020)