It is very common to experience itching during pregnancy, but sometimes it can be dangerous. It is crucial to know all of the causes for concern to ensure safety for both mother and child.
Causes for Itching During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the uterus is growing at a rapid rate. This growth causes the skin to stretch around the stomach, and the skin’s oil glands cannot produce adequate moisture resulting in dry, irritated skin. Itching that occurs on the stomach and the legs is normal, but severe itching can be a symptom of a more significant issue.
A liver disease called obstetric cholestasis only happens to a small percentage of pregnant women, but the side effects are fatal. With this disease, itching occurs on the palms of a woman’s hands and the soles of her feet. Obstetric cholestasis usually manifests during the third trimester of pregnancy when hormones reach their peak. Doctors believe that the influx of hormones slows down the flow of bile in the liver, causing it to build up in the bloodstream. The bile acid then begins to flow throughout the body, resulting in itchy skin. The condition usually goes away after delivery, but it can cause severe complications in the meantime.
Pregnant women with obstetric cholestasis can experience low levels of vitamin K, which affects the way the body absorbs fat. Babies can experience fetal distress, premature birth, lung problems, stress on the liver and stillbirth if the mother has the disease. Due to these dangerous circumstances, a doctor may recommend early delivery.
Treating Obstetric Cholestasis Effectively
A doctor can help a woman find what treatment is best for her and her baby when dealing with obstetric cholestasis. Possible treatments might be medications to decrease bile acid levels, taking vitamin K supplements to reduce the risk of intracranial hemorrhaging, or a prescription for dexamethasone to increase the maturity of a baby’s lungs. Urso is a medication that has proven to reduce bile in the mother’s blood. Urso is safe to take during pregnancy, but women must be cautious when breastfeeding. Antihistamines and oatmeal baths have proven to be ineffective in the treatment of obstetric cholestasis.
Other Causes for Itchy Skin During Pregnancy and Natural Remedies
Pregnant women may also experience a condition known as prurigo. This condition causes small, itchy bumps on the skin similar to insect bites. Prurigo can develop at any time throughout pregnancy and continue afterward, but it, fortunately, does not harm the baby. Experts believe changes in the immune function cause it. To treat the condition, doctors may recommend topical ointments or steroids in combination with oral antihistamines.
Mild itching during pregnancy without the presence of a more severe condition can be relieved in several ways. Women can apply unscented lotion regularly to the stomach and legs or wear clothing that is loose and made from natural fibers such as cotton. Some women find calamine lotion to be effective. However, it is recommended to consult a doctor before using calamine lotion because the safety of the product during pregnancy is unknown.