Are you a pregnant woman who is suffering from severe itching? Are you wondering how you can lessen this issue? Itching is one common problem during pregnancy, but it definitely is not untreatable.
There are a number of home remedies that can cure your itching! Would you like to know more about itching during pregnancy and the remedies that can cure it? Go ahead with your read!
Is Itchy Skin During Pregnancy Normal?
Yes, it most certainly is. As mentioned earlier, your skin stretches to accommodate your growing belly and breasts. If you have dry skin, it may worsen during your pregnancy. There are also certain conditions that occur, especially during pregnancy, that lead to rashes that itch a lot or even itchiness without the presence of any rashes. This is why it is recommended that you visit your caregiver and describe your symptoms as they may be a sign of certain conditions, some of which can be quite serious and harmful to you and your unborn baby.
If you are pregnant for the first time, do not be alarmed if you start to experience itchiness in certain parts of your body. It comes with the territory! But if it gets alarmingly worse, consult your doctor as soon as possible!
Can Incessant Itching Cause Your Baby Harm?
If you are pregnant, you are sure to worry about the smallest of matters. Matters that were often of no concern suddenly start worrying you. “Will eating bananas harm my baby?”, “Can I eat cauliflower?”, “Should I apply sunscreen?” – these are just a few of the many questions that may bog you down.
An itch on any other sunny day may not make you spend a sleepless night. However, if you are pregnant, you are bound to wonder if it will harm your baby in any way. Well, do not fret, for in most instances an itch is rather harmless and has absolutely no bearing on the health and growth of your growing baby.
Very rarely can a severe case of itching in the third semester be a cause of worry. If you are in your third trimester and your itching is severe, there is the likelihood that you may have developed obstetric cholestasis (OC) (1), a liver disease that may need immediate attention.
Symptoms to watch out for are:
- Itchiness is limited or concentrated to the palms and soles.
- Itching gets worse as the sun sets.
- You have no rashes, but the itching is severe
- You pass pale stools.
If you have OC, your doctor will prescribe a medicine as well as cream to combat the itching and give you relief. Often OC can lead to premature labor, so it is important that you consult a doctor to rule out the likelihood that you may have OC. Remember, OC is not a serious ailment and passes as soon as your baby is born. With the right medication, the condition can be controlled.
Are There Other Causes Of Itchiness During Pregnancy?
Apart from weight gain and hormonal changes in women who are pregnant, there are other causes for itchiness during pregnancy. These causes include the following:
1. Pruritic Urticarial Papules And Plaques Of Pregnancy:
This is a condition that is also commonly known as PUPPP. It is a skin rash that is similar to hives, and it usually appears on the belly of pregnant women. PUPPP usually develops during the third trimester and is more common among women who are pregnant for the first time, or those who are pregnant with twins. This condition does not pose a threat to the mother or baby; however, it can cause a lot of discomfort.
This is a condition in which pregnant women develop liver problems. The liver’s normal bile flow throughout the body is affected. With cholestasis, pregnant women experience itchiness that is severe all over their body, but without any visible rashes. This condition poses a threat to the unborn baby and needs to be treated immediately.
3. Yeast Infection:
Some women experience itchiness or irritation in the vagina. This is caused by yeast infection (2). This infection is a result of fungal growth in the genital area. Hormonal imbalance or a poor diet with excess carbohydrates and sugar causes the fungal growth. Doctors prescribe pregnancy-safe antibiotics to women who develop this infection while they are pregnant.
4. Prurigo Of Pregnancy:
This is a condition that usually occurs during the late part of the second or early stage of the third trimester of a pregnancy. It starts out as spots that appear similar to bug bites, but can turn to tiny cuts that crust due to scratching. This is a rare condition that can cause itchiness that affects the torso or limbs. Antihistamines and topical medication are usually prescribed. In rare cases, oral steroids may be required to treat it. The condition does not pose any threat to babies or their mothers, and it usually disappears after birth. However, in some cases, it can last up to 3 months after childbirth.
5. Pemphigoid Gestationis:
This is a very rare condition in which pregnant women develop eruptions that are highly itchy (3). They begin like hives and slowly turn into blistering lesions that are large in size. This condition usually occurs during the second or third trimester. However, it can begin at any given time, including one or two weeks after delivery. The eruptions start appearing around the belly button area and spread to the other parts of the body including the soles and palms.
Oral steroids are the most common medication used to treat the condition. It has risks such as growth problems for the fetus, premature birth or stillborn babies, which is why it is imperative for pregnant women to get treated immediately if the condition is diagnosed. Close monitoring of pregnancy is also a must.
6. Impetigo Herpetiformis:
This is a condition that rarely occurs. It is a form of psoriasis that develops while a woman is pregnant (4). Although it can start earlier, this condition normally develops during the third trimester. It causes extensive areas in the body to redden with small rashes filled with pus. These rashes may turn into large pus-filled areas that turn white in color. The rashes appear on the groin area, thighs, armpits, under the breasts, around the navel, etc. They can cause pain but are itchy only in a few cases. It causes vomiting, fever, chills and diarrhea.
Pregnant women and their unborn babies are closely monitored if they develop this condition as there can be complications. Systemic corticosteroids are used to treat it. In some cases, depending on the condition, patients may be prescribed other medications. It disappears after delivery, but can occur again during another pregnancy.
Home Treatments to Treat Itching During Pregnancy:
If you are experiencing itching while you are pregnant, you can use safe and natural remedies to gain relief. These remedies can help in decreasing skin redness, swelling, pain and itches without any side-effects.
1. Oatmeal Baths:
This is one of the most recommended home remedies for itching during pregnancy. Add a cup of oatmeal to your warm bath water and let it soothe any irritated parts of your skin and decrease the itchiness. You will definitely feel much better after an oatmeal bath!
2. Cold Compress:
Another great way to relieve itchiness is to use an ice-pack on the itchy parts of your skin. This is especially helpful if you have inflammations on parts of your body. The cold will quickly provide relief from the discomfort you are experiencing and keep away more itchiness at least for a while.
Milk thistle and dandelions are herbs that can do a lot of good when you have itching skin during pregnancy. They are effective natural treatments for liver problems and can provide relief from itchiness that is caused by conditions such as cholestasis. Natural and safe, they are much better than chemical-filled medications.
4. Aloe Vera Gel:
This plant is known worldwide for its effectiveness in healing different skin conditions. You can apply the gel to itchy parts of your skin to prevent or decrease any inflammations. Aloe Vera gel can also provide you with a layer that protects your skin and prevents any damage that you may cause when you scratch your skin.
5. Wet Towel:
To gain relief from the itchiness that comes with being pregnant, you can take a small towel that has been soaked in cold water and roll it up. Place the damp towel on your belly and between your breasts and relax. You will feel so much better and you can stop scratching yourself for a while!
6. Calendula Creams:
These lotions or creams can give you the much-needed relief from itchiness that occurs during pregnancy. Rub the cream on the itchy areas to prevent inflammation caused by scratching yourself. This is one of the most commonly used remedies for itchy skin among pregnant women.
7. Calamine Lotion:
This is a remedy that is excellent, especially for women who suffer from PUPPP. Take the lotion and apply it to areas such as skin folds between your breasts as well as your thighs to reduce or prevent inflammation and irritation. You will definitely experience a world of difference after using this lotion. You can also try unscented body powder.
8. Baking Soda Paste:
To get relief from pain, redness and irritation of your skin, make a paste with water and baking powder and apply it all over your stomach or areas that are more prone to itchiness. You will feel soothed and your discomfort will be alleviated as the paste works its magic on your skin. This is another remedy that is widely used by pregnant women all over the world.
9. Massage Oils:
If you have dry skin, a great way to do away with itchy skin is to massage your belly, breasts, thighs, etc. with olive or almond oil. You can also use essential oils like lavender to get rid of itchy skin and relax from the calming and soothing effects of the oil. Remember to consult your doctor before using an essential oil.
10. Basil Tea:
As strange as it may seem, basil that goes into many Indian dishes, can prove beneficial in treating a rather nasty bout of itching. This herb contains a compound known as eugenol that will instantly ease itching. Steep a few fresh leaves of basil in a large cup of boiling water. Soak a cloth in the mixture once it has cooled and place it on the affected areas. What’s more? Basil is absolutely safe to ingest in food quantities during pregnancy (5).
This cool herb can combat with itching in a jiffy. However, do not crush and use the leaves directly on the affected area, lest it may cause burning of the skin. Steep a few leaves in hot water and use the liquid on affected areas. The same may be done with thyme leaves.
12. Lemon Juice:
Nobody needs an introduction to lemon! For decades lemon has been used as a home remedy to treat myriad health conditions. Diluted lemon juice when applied with a cotton swab, can do wonders in easing itching.
[ Read: Causes Of Fainting During Pregnancy ]
13. Juniper Berry Lotion:
Though these berries are hard to find, they can be just the remedy you need to cure that nasty itch. These berries have inflammatory properties and when combined with cloves that contain eugenol, can be a potent itch cure. Grind together some clove and berries and mix them with some beeswax, and Voila! You have an instant itch reliever! Simply rub this paste on your skin, and relax while the itch fades into oblivion.
14. Besan Powder:
Remember your grandmother professing the many wonders of this kitchen ingredient? Well, now it is time you try it on your itch. Just mix together some water and besan and apply on your skin. Not only will the itch, be gone, your skin too will feel baby soft and fresh!
15. Cool Showers:
When your skin starts to itch, refrain from scratching and get under the shower for a cooling effect. Your skin will feel wonderful and of course, you will feel as fresh as a daisy! Gently towel yourself dry and bask in the delight of itch-free skin!
Tips To Prevent Itching During Pregnancy:
Here are some of the most useful tips that you can use to prevent your skin from getting itchy while you are pregnant:
- Make sure that your skin is always well-moisturized, especially if you have dry skin.
- Use scentless body lotions and moisturizers as certain scents can cause itchiness.
- Avoid hot baths and showers as they will cause dry skin, making it itch.
- Use non-fragrant soaps and shower gels as well.
- Always make sure that you rinse off the soap well during your bath or shower.
- Always dry yourself gently with a soft towel.
- Keep away from the heat outdoors as it can make the itchiness more intense.
- Always wear loose and comfortable cotton clothes as they will prevent itchiness and also feel better on your skin.
- Do not use loofahs or body brushes when you shower or bathe as they will aggravate your skin.
- Wear cotton underwear so that your skin can breathe and irritation can be prevented.
- Wash your clothes with mild detergents so that your skin does not get affected by them.
- Drink plenty of water (at least 8 to 10 glasses daily) so that your body stays hydrated at all times and your skin is well-moisturized naturally.
- Do not wear wet clothes or swimsuits for long periods of time as they can encourage fungal growth, which in turn can lead to yeast infection.
- Avoid leaving your AC switched on for long periods of time as it can leave your skin dry and cause irritation and itchiness.
- Though we suggest not to keep the AC switched on for too long, do not get overheated as well. Heat can cause rashes that can further aggravate itchiness. Try and stay indoors and wear nice and baggy comfortable clothing when you step out in the sun!
If you experience severe itchiness or develop rashes, you should immediately visit your doctor to make sure that you are not developing any serious condition. The remedies and tips given above may also be inadequate to provide relief if your skin is extremely itchy or if you have developed serious rashes. This is why it is important for you to talk to your doctor. You may need to use topical ointments or oral medications, or maybe even both for relief.
Itchy skin is one of the natural side-effects that come with pregnancy. A large percentage of pregnant women experience it and with a little time and effort, there are many ways to get relief. It does not have to be uncomfortable and annoying. With the remedies and tips provided, you can have a pregnancy without constant scratching and have skin that is free from irritation, rashes and inflammation.
Do you know any other ways on how to get relief from itching during pregnancy? Share with us by commenting in the box below!
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