Itchy skin is one common concern that occurs during pregnancy and is thought to be due to a rush of new hormones in the body. It can also be caused by the skin stretching to accommodate your growing baby, so you may find that areas with stretch marks feel particularly itchy. It’s very normal, however, to experience itching all over the body.
Itchiness can also be a symptom of a liver condition called Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP), also known as obstetric cholestasis (OC) – although it is very rare and is thought to affect just one in 140 women.
ICP is caused by a build-up of bile acids in the liver which escape into the bloodstream. It’s normally seen after 28 weeks of pregnancy but can develop earlier so you should always visit your doctor if you feel concerned. Signs to look out for are itching without a rash, which gets worse at night, and dark urine.
If you notice small, raised bumps and areas of inflammation, you could have a skin condition called Polymorphic Eruption of Pregnancy. While uncomfortable, this condition isn’t harmful to you or your baby but may require treatment. You should speak to your doctor or midwife for further advice if these symptoms sound familiar.
For mild cases of itching skin during pregnancy, there are a few simple things you can do to make yourself feel better. First of all, try not to wear very tight or uncomfortable clothes and keep your layers light and loose in materials such as cotton and linen. During the winter months, make sure you layer a soft long-sleeved T-shirt under any knitwear as fabrics such as wool can make the skin feel worse.
You should also try to keep baths and showers on the cooler side, as hot water can exacerbate irritated skin and create further inflammation. Once you’ve bathed, you can also soothe and calm your skin with an intensely hydrating moisturiser. Apply to all areas that feel itchy including the feet, hands and stretch marks.
La Roche-Posay’s Lipikar Baume AP+ is enriched with glycerin and shea butter so while ultra-gentle, it can hydrate for up to 24 hours to minimise dry-skin flareups and soothe itchiness. It also has a minimalist, fragrance-free formula ￼so it’s completely safe to use during and after pregnancy. It’s so gentle in fact, you can even use it on you baby once they’re born.
Finally, it’s always best to speak to a doctor or your midwife if you’re concerned about anything during your pregnancy. They’ll be able to set your mind at ease and run any necessary tests for specific skin conditions.