About a quarter of women will experience itching when pregnant. This can be over all the body or just on the legs or bump. Although it will usually resolve itself once your baby has been born, there are ways to ease itchy skin caused by pregnancy. Some of these may also help with leg and feet swelling and cramps.
When you are pregnant your body goes through lots of changes to support your growing baby. Increases in hormone levels and blood volume start in the first trimester of your pregnancy and both of these can produce changes to your skin
During the second and third trimester of your pregnancy your skin will stretch to accommodate your baby’s growth and you may also experience swollen legs and feet, both of which can cause irritation and itchiness as the skin stretches.
If you have eczema or psoriasis, pregnancy and hormonal changes may temporarily cause your condition to flare up, or you may even find that they appear for the first time - it’s always best to speak to your midwife or doctor about this.
You notice itchy red spots which spread to your arms and legs and this could be pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP). Ask your doctor or midwife to look at it to confirm, but this is harmless to you and your baby and will disappear after your baby is born.
If the itching is also on your hands and feet, it is important to see your midwife or doctor as there is condition called Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP), also known as Obstetric Cholestasis, which can affect your baby’s wellbeing. This condition can be identified by a simple blood test and monitored throughout your pregnancy.
Most itching during pregnancy is harmless. Yet, it can be frustrating, as it can disrupt sleep and make you feel pretty uncomfortable. To keep you comfortable and happy during your pregnancy, we recommend the following tips to ease the itch in pregnancy:
- Try to keep cool by wearing natural fibres and staying out of direct heat and sunlight. This will help to minimise swelling and itchiness. Our Coping with the heat blog will also give you some more information on what you can do
- Keep your legs and whole body moisturised to prevent your skin from drying out and causing the urge to scratch. Use a recommended moisturiser containing natural ingredients such as My Expert Midwife’s award-winning Fantastic Skin Elastic.
- Remember to take cooler showers or baths. You could try adding some organic oatmeal to your bath as this has soothing properties for your skin.
- You can soak your feet and lower legs in a cool bowl of water to help reduce swelling and itchiness. Remember to moisturise afterwards to prevent your skin from drying out.
- If you are struggling to sleep, spray Spritz for Bits over your body to cool and calm the skin. It contains lavender which will naturally help you sleep.
- Find a willing partner to gently massage itchy legs as this will encourage the blood flow to the surface of the skin and will also enable better circulation and hydration in your body.
- Using Spritz for Bits and Fantastic Skin Elastic in combination, as an evening and morning regime, will help to soothe the itching and cool hot and bothered bodies.
Itching and stretching of the skin in pregnancy can cause much discomfort and adversely affect our daily lives. Above are some suggestions that may help relieve your irritation and allow you to enjoy your pregnancy a little more.