In “Itching in pregnancy, Part I” I covered obstetric cholestasis. Here, I will cover other causes of itchiness in pregnancy, which may not be so dangerous to mother or baby, but nonetheless can cause a great deal of distress. It is always worth mentioning your itchiness to a midwife or doctor to rule out a more serious cause.
However, most itching (with no rash) can be caused by simple things like a woman’s bump increasing in size rapidly causing stretching of the skin and hence an itchy sensation. Complex pregnancy hormones at play can also cause it.
How to improve your itchy symptoms:
When itchiness is caused by these annoying but not dangerous things the best things is for a woman to consider lifestyle changes to help her manage the itch.
Suggestions include: wearing loose cotton/silk clothing; having cool baths and using soothing emollients (these are like moisturisers but contain no harmful chemicals). Examples of emollients include: Doublebase, Cetraben, Aveeno, Diprobase, Hydromol, Epaderm. Emollients can be lotions (light and easy to rub in), creams (slightly thicker) or ointments (more greasy). It is worth playing with these to see which suits you better. It can also be worth trying using an emollient instead of soap to wash with as soaps, shower gels and bubble baths can be drying and thus irritating.
Although cool baths are recommended, it is worth considering cutting down on the number of baths and showers as frequent washing can dry the skin and thus increase itchiness. After your bath it is worth patting dry the skin rather than rubbing with the towel.
It can be helpful to put a bowl of water near your radiator to help humidify the air and having the heating set to a temperature that is not too warm.
Some women find it helpful to avoid spicy foods. In pregnancy it is always advisable to cut down on caffeine but avoiding altogether may help those with itch.
Finally, women should keep their nails short to minimise skin damage from itching – although ideally its best not to itch at all. Itching can lead to the skin becoming itchier.
If you develop a rash or the itch changes at all it is worth consulting a midwife or doctor.
Any questions or comments do get in touch @PregnaPouch or PregnaPouch@gmail.com.
Best wishes and Good Luck
The PregnaPouch team