Sensitive irritated skin in pregnancy is so common, the more you scratch; the more it itches and it drives you crazy!
Let’s look at why this happens and what you can do to help stop the itching.
Pregnancy is a time of raging hormones which can cause all sorts of symptoms both physically and emotionally. Hormones can cause your skin to become more sensitive to the ingredients in products that you use, whether it’s a wash off product such as a shower gel or a leave on product such as a body cream, oil or lotion. You can also develop sensitivity to the ingredients in your washing powder as this lingers on your clothes and bedding which sit against your skin.
So products that suited you before you were pregnant could well now upset your delicate skin, resulting in irritations or dryness. Now’s the time to look for products that don’t use any SLS’s, parabans, mineral oils, perfumes or artificial fragrances or colours as these are all known to be irritating.
As your body changes your skin has to stretch to accommodate your growing bump and breasts and together with the increased blood flow this will cause your skin to feel prickly and itchy, particularly if it’s dehydrated and dry.
So pregnancy is often the time you find yourself having to opt to use body products to help keep your skin moisturised. By drinking more and hydrating your body on the outside with a natural fragrance free body oil you can also reduce to appearance of stretch marks.
Whilst we’re talking about itching in pregnancy it’s worth knowing about two conditions that are unique to pregnancy:
Polymorphic eruption of pregnancy (PEP)
This is a chronic hives type itchy rash that starts around stretch marks & can then spread over your body and limbs but the exact cause not known. If you develop any rashes in pregnancy it is always worth getting them checked out by your doctor however if PEP is diagnosed there isn’t any cure but it doesn’t harm your baby and will go once they are born, so it’s a case of managing the symptoms will suitable products and wearing loose clothing made from natural fibres so that your skin can breathe.
Obstetric Cholestasis (OC)
This is a potentially serious liver disorder that can develop in pregnancy when the bile acids from your liver don’t flow properly and build up in your body instead. The main difference with this condition is that the itching is particularly on the palms of your hands & soles of your feet usually without a rash and can sometimes include other symptoms such as dark urine, pale bowel movements and less commonly yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. You must see a Doctor if you think you may have this condition because they will want to undertake liver function blood tests and monitor your bile acid levels. Although there is a medication available to help reduce the bile acids they may still want to induce your labour early as there is a link to an increased risk of stillbirth with this condition.
All this writing about itching I’m now starting to scratch!
Hope you’ve found this helpful x
Thanks for reading
During your pregnancy factors may come into play that result in you requiring different advice – in these circumstances you should seek direct advice from you own Midwife/Doctor according to your situation.
If you are unsure about anything or have any concerns whilst pregnant please speak to your Midwife.