Itching During Pregnancy: Causes, Home Treatment and When to See a Doctor

6 min read

Written by Rathnavalli Pradeep

Rathnavalli Pradeep

Rathna has been with Being The Parent since the very beginning. Her immense passion to learn new aspects of  parenting and a vision to help prospective and new mothers is what drives her.


Itching during pregnancy

Pregnancy is an overwhelming journey for every woman. For some, the journey is smooth and others claim difficulties throughout the phase. However, every complication may not need our focus and attention, as most changes are an effect of the hormonal changes that occur in the body. A few complications require attention and one of them is itching during pregnancy.

Itching or irritation of the skin is a common problem and is not an indication of an underlying health condition. Itching is a major complaint during pregnancy and is seen in many women. Pregnancy is a phase where the body of a woman goes on a ride of changing hormones. This can lead to unexplainable, self-limiting, and minor itching and irritation throughout the phase.

In This Article

Causes of Itching During Pregnancy

Itching during pregnancy is a normal condition but can occur for many reasons. Itching can be triggered by wearing synthetic and tight clothes. Using scented soaps and perfumes can aggravate itching during pregnancy. Some of us may have a habit of using extremely hot or cold water for showers. These extreme temperatures can also cause itching. This particular trouble aggravates during the second trimester of pregnancy and continues till the birth of the baby. As the skin stretches beyond the limitations while the body prepares to host a baby, an unpleasant feeling of itching begins.

There are other reasons which come under medical conditions that are experienced during pregnancy. Medical conditions that cause itching during pregnancy are:

1. PUPPP (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy)

PUPPP or Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy occurs around the stretch marks and usually regresses after the birth of the baby:

  • It occurs in 1 out of 160 women.
  • PUPPP might spread from the abdominal area to the hip area and the breasts.
  • This type of skin condition mostly occurs in women with multiple fetuses like twins or triplets.
  • This usually regresses within two to three weeks after delivery.
  • PUPPP will not cause any harm to the fetus.
  • Try to talk to your doctor if the condition is unmanageable.

2. Atopic Eruption of Pregnancy

The atopic eruption is eczema that is suddenly seen during pregnancy. Eczema is a skin condition that causes patches on several parts of the body which leads to itching and irritation:

  • This may occur on any part of the body, including the face, palms, and neck.
  • Eczema is a chronic and treatable condition that does not affect the fetus.

[Read : Atopic Eruption Of Pregnancy]

3. Pemphigoid Gestationis

Pemphigoid gestationis is another form of PUPPP and an extending rash that forms around the umbilicus. It can occur during pregnancy and limits itself after childbirth:

  • This condition might affect the fetus leading to preterm births and inheriting the skin condition.
  • The rash caused by PG usually vanishes within days or weeks post-delivery.
  • Babies that inherit this condition tend to heal after some days of their birth.
  • Pemphigoid gestationis need the attention of a doctor to rule out any complications.

4. Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP)

Intrahepatic implies inside the liver. ICP is a liver disorder that occurs during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. This is a type of skin condition that starts with itching on palms and feet without any rash:

  • It occurs when the liver fails to function properly.
  • This kind of itching can become extreme and worsen during the night.
  • This condition can be harmful to the fetus, leading to stillbirths in most cases.
  • Some women might develop yellowing of the eyes and nails, leading to jaundice.

All the above types of itching during pregnancy are diagnosable through derma tests. These are mostly self-limiting and treatable.

[Read : Cholestasis of Pregnancy]

How Much Itching is Normal During Pregnancy?

Itching during pregnancy is very normal because the body goes through numerous changes while hosting the baby. Itching is normal if it occurs due to dry weather. This can be calmed down by applying unscented moisturizers. It is normal in the abdominal area as the skin stretches thus becoming flaky and dry. It is normal if it doesn’t persist for a very long time.

Natural Treatments For Itching During Pregnancy

Home Remedies For Itching During Pregnancy

There are many home remedies to treat itching during pregnancy. Let’s begin with what to avoid that triggers itching:

Triggers to Avoid Itching During Pregnancy

  • Avoid wearing synthetic, tight clothes that can collect sweat through which itching begins.
  • Prefer wearing loose cotton clothing that does not stick to the body. Increase the size of your innerwear.
  • Don’t take hot and cold-water showers that can crackle up the outer layer of skin.
  • Avoid using scented perfumes and moisturizers.
  • Over scratching the skin leads the rash to spread and may wound the skin.
  • Avoid dry climates and try to maintain the moisture in your room. Essential oil diffusers with pleasant fragrances can help the room retain moisture.
  • Prefer Lukewarm water during the shower and avoid long baths.

Home Remedies For Itching During Pregnancy

  • Drink plenty of fluids as the body tends to dehydrate more in pregnancy. Taking more fluids can also help resolve some other problems of pregnancy.
  • Keeping an ice pack on the affected area can help ease the inflammation.
  • Apply coconut oil, as it has multiple benefits. The antimicrobial properties of coconut oil help reduce inflammation.
  • Apply aloe vera gel, which soothes and heals the cracked skin.
  • Keep your skin hydrated by applying a moisturizing body wash followed by an unscented moisturizer.
  • An oatmeal bath can help in relieving inflammation and helps soothe the affected area.
  • One of the traditional remedies to get rid of itching is to apply the paste of gram flour and curd.

Seeing a Doctor For Itching Condition When Pregnant

pregnant women with doctor

Most types of itching conditions will naturally go away after childbirth. But you must keep track of your symptoms and see a doctor if they start to worsen

Factors That Can be Concerning:

  • Persistent itching despite trying many home remedies.
  • Extreme itching in palms and feet without a rash and is more during nights. This is a symptom of intrahepatic cholestasis that can be a threat to the fetus.
  • If your urine is dark.
  • Any loss of appetite and extreme tiredness without a reason can be a cause of concern.
  • If there is any yellowing of your nails, eyes, and skin. This can be an extended symptom of ICP.

Any itching during pregnancy is mostly self-limiting, but it is always better to see a doctor to get clarity and to rule out any other complications. Doctors might refer to skin examination and blood works. There might be a chance of referring to a skin biopsy test in some very rare cases that do not respond to normal treatments.

Will the Itching Harm My Baby?

In most pruritic conditions, the fetus is generally not harmed. Many conditions will eventually end and do not tend to return after childbirth. But, in conditions like IntraHepatic Cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP), and Pemphigoid gestationis there are possibilities of the fetus getting affected. It includes preterm births, and stillbirths for ICP, also preterm births in conditions like pemphigoid gestationis. Preterm births can affect the baby to be born underweight. However, a proper diagnosis and treatment can help the mother and baby come out of any adverse effects that are caused due to the itching during pregnancy.

Itching during pregnancy is a very natural problem that tends to regress on its own. If the itching is mild and is not much of a spreading kind, home remedies are the best to resolve it. It is always a better thing to talk to your doctor in case of any abnormal signs or symptoms or if you feel too concerned.


1. Does Itching Occur Throughout the Pregnancy?

Yes, in some cases it normally reduces after childbirth. But it is always better to see a doctor if you think that the condition needs attention.

2. How Can I Stop Itching During Pregnancy?

Home remedies like taking a warm water bath, staying dry and clean, avoiding synthetic clothing, applying coconut oil, and a mild moisturizer on the affected parts before sleeping can help ease the irritation that is caused due to itching.

3. How Can a Serious Itching Condition be Understood?

Keep track of how your body is reacting to natural home remedies. If the condition persists or if it starts to worsen if your itching is more at night starting with palms and soles without a rash. Report to your doctor as early as possible to rule out any complications.

4. When Does Itching Start During Pregnancy?

Itching usually starts during the second or third trimesters of pregnancy and usually regresses after childbirth.

5. Does Drinking Water Ease Itching During Pregnancy?

Yes, it does to an extent. Fluid intake can help hydrate your body, which naturally hydrates your skin thus easing the itchiness.

Read Also: Soothe Itchy Breast During Pregnancy With Easy Tips

Rathnavalli Pradeep,BE in Computer Science from Bharathidasan university, Tirucharapalli.

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