What is Safe for Itching During Pregnancy

by Garreth Myers

Itchiness during pregnancy is a common complaint. As you gain weight and your skin stretches over to accommodate your growing baby, it is natural to feel a tightness that can border on uncomfortable. Your body is also on a roller coaster ride of fluctuating hormone levels. This can lead to a wide variety of side effects and health complaints with itchy skin being just one such condition. For many women, this feeling of itchiness may be felt throughout the nine months of pregnancy and only disappear after delivery.

Causes

Apart from hormonal changes and weight gain, there are other reasons why itchiness occurs during pregnancy. These include:
  • Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy (PUPPP) are a hive-like skin rash that develops over a pregnant woman’s belly. This condition tends to develop in the third trimester of pregnancy and is more common during a first pregnancy or if a woman is having twins. While PUPP is harmless to both the mother and the baby the itching and skin welts can be very uncomfortable.
  • Cholestasis of pregnancy is a liver problem that affects pregnant women and affects the normal flow of bile from the liver to the rest of the body. Cholestasis causes severe itching all over the body but with no visible rash. Cholestasis can be harmful to the baby and requires immediate medical treatment.
  • Itchiness during pregnancy especially irritation of the vagina is often caused by a yeast infection. Yeast infections are a common type of vaginal infections that develop as a result of an overgrowth of fungi in the genital area. This occurs due to an imbalance of hormones or an unhealthy diet that is high in sugar and carbohydrates. Certain medications such as antibiotics can also lead to an overgrowth of fungi.

It is very important that you consult with a doctor at the first sign of any unusual symptoms during your pregnancy. What may seem like a simple itch could be a sign of a more serious medical condition so do not hesitate to bring any changes to your doctor’s notice.

Home Remedies for Itching during Pregnancy

There are a number of ways to cure itchiness without resort to conventional medications such as antihistamines or corticosteroids. Natural treatments have fewer or no side effects and help reduce symptoms such as itchiness, swelling, pain, and redness of the skin. Some tried and tested home remedies include:
  • Immerse yourself in a warm bath with a cup of oatmeal added to it. The oatmeal helps soothe irritated skin and reduce the itchiness.
  • Apply a cold compress or ice pack to the affected areas of the skin if the itchiness is causing an inflammation or redness.
  • Herbs such as Dandelion Root and Milk Thistle can help treat liver problems and reduce symptoms such as itchiness caused by cholestasis.
  • Soak a small towel in cool water, roll it up and place it between your breasts and growing belly to naturally cure a breast itch during pregnancy.
  • Calendula creams or ointments provide relief from itching and dry skin during pregnancy.
  • Apply aloe vera gel on the affected area to reduce inflammation. The gel also creates a protective layer on the skin and prevents further damage caused by scratching the skin.
  • Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it all over your belly or other areas of itchy skin to alleviate symptoms such as itchiness, redness, and pain.
  • If you suffer from PUPP, apply calamine lotion or a scentless powder on the folds of skin between the breasts and thighs to reduce irritation and inflammation.
Other ways to prevent itchiness during pregnancy:
  • Avoid hot showers as they can dry out the skin and make the itchiness worse. Do not use body brushes or loofah scrubs while bathing as this can aggravate the skin further.
  • Do not use skin care products that are heavily perfumed or contain harsh chemicals. Glycerine creams can be used instead of soaps, as they are kinder to the skin.
  • Certain detergents may also cause an allergic reaction and should be avoided.
  • Wear loose clothing and underwear preferably in cotton or natural fibers that allow the skin to breathe and prevents excessive perspiration.
  • Do not sit around in wet clothes or a swimsuit as this can encourage the growth of fungi and lead to a yeast infection.
  • Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day to stay hydrated and keep the skin healthy and moisturized.
  • Avoid scratching the itchy skin as far as possible. While scratching can relieve the itch temporarily, it can cause cuts and nicks in the skin that may lead to a secondary infection.
  • Keep your fingernails short and wear gloves at night to prevent scratching.
Before trying out any home remedy or natural treatment, you must always consult with your doctor to decide on the right course of treatment for your particular problem.

References:
http://library.upstate.edu/frc/resources/eil/derm4861.php

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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