Dealing with itchiness during pregnancy

We look at what causes itchiness during pregnancy and how to deal with it.


Itchiness during pregnancy is one of those annoying symptoms which can get worse towards the third trimester.This is because as the skin expands and blood supply increases, the skin gets a little inflamed and itchy as a result.

The good news is, this is a fairly common condition and most pregnant women experience some form of itchiness, especially around the breasts, stomach, upper arms and thighs.

How to treat itchiness during pregnancy 

  • Itching may be attributed to stretching of the skin or hormonal changes. Make sure you use oils and creams that are safe for pregnant women to keep your skin supple.
  • According to the American Pregnancy Association, you should regularly apply unscented moisturiser to relieve the itch. The more cream you apply, the calmer your skin will be.
  • You can also take calendula tablets and the tissue salt Nat Mur, three times daily, as this has been found to provide some relief. Calendula cream is also a great option. Just always check with your doctor before taking any new medicaiton, even if it’s homeopathic remedies.
  • A great natural remedy is also to add a potful of rooibos tea or a handful of bicarbonate of soda to your bathwater and powder yourself with a light layer of cornflour on the itchy areas.
  • Sometimes, itching can be caused by a change in the products you usually use or the type of washing powder you use to clean your clothes. Use a process of elimination to see if your symptoms get worse or improve. Remember to only eliminate one product at a time otherwise you won’t know which one is causing the problem.
  • According to the American Pregnancy Association, always wear loose, comfortable clothing and lingerie that won’t irritate the skin, especially in summer when it’s warmer and more humid.

ALSO SEE: 4 unusual pregnancy conditions 

When to call the doctor 

If you feel ill, nauseous, or you experience bad swelling, you must see your doctor for immediate treatment. Experts warn that itchiness during pregnancy could also be linked to a rare liver condition known as obstetric cholestasis  (OC). This occurs when the natural flow of bile in the body is disrupted. This can cause a build up of bile in the body which could cause severe itching – from the inside out.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, you should watch out for the following symptoms; 

  • Severe itching – particularly on the hands and feet
  • Jaundice (yellow skin)
  • Dark urine
  • Greyish bowel movements

If you suspect you have this condition, it’s important to see your healthcare provider immediately as this can cause complications such as pre-term labour and stillbirth.

ALSO SEE: 10 pregnancy warning signs to look out for

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