Itchy skin during pregnancy is not uncommon, but it is uncomfortable. Find out what might be causing your itchy skin and learn how to manage it.

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How To Manage Itchy Skin During Pregnancy

06/19/20238 min read

Feel an urge to scratch that just won’t go away? Itchy skin during pregnancy can make you irritated and uncomfortable. It’s just one on a list of unpleasant surprises that pop up during pregnancy.

In this article, we’ll walk you through what might be causing the itch so you can be sure it’s not something serious. We’ll also provide tips for how to manage it so that your skin can sing a happy tune in no time.

Table Of Contents

Causes Of Itchy Skin During Pregnancy

Having itchy skin during pregnancy is common. Causes range from things going on inside your body to what you’re encountering outside.

In order to figure out what is causing your skin’s distress, you’ll want to pay attention to where you feel it and whether the itch is on the milder side or is so intense you’d call it a serious itch.

If it’s mild, there are easy things you can do at home to manage the itch. If you think it’s more serious, keep reading to learn more about the possible causes, and make an appointment with your doctor.

A woman experiencing itchy skin during pregnancy

Mild Itching

Most itching experienced during pregnancy is considered mild. It’s no wonder that your skin is reacting with all of the changes going on in your body.

With that in mind, here are some reasons why your skin might itch while you’re expecting.

Hormone Changes

Pregnancy sets your hormones aflutter. These hormonal changes experienced during pregnancy could be at the root of the itch.

Perfumes Or Detergents

When you’re pregnant, your skin can be even more sensitive than usual. You’ll want to look closely at the scented products on your shelf. Things like perfumes and detergents can irritate your skin, even if they never have before.

Dry Skin

Dry skin is another potential cause of your itchiness. As we said, your hormones are very active during pregnancy. This can make your skin dry or flaky, although a whole host of other things could cause these symptoms as well.

For instance, if you’ve spent time in the sun, have used a harsh soap, or have been in a dry climate, your skin could be reacting to those things.

Stretched Skin

If you’re feeling the itch across your belly and breasts, there’s a good reason why. These areas have been growing day by day, and your itch may well be because of stretched skin (and stretched nerve endings).

Itchiness due to stretched skin can be even more pronounced for your first pregnancy or if you’re expecting twins or triplets.


If you already suffer from eczema, pregnancy can sometimes make it worse. Using specially formulated products to manage this condition, like Bodewell Eczema Daily Calming Cream, can provide relief for your eczema-related itching.

However, if the itch is extreme, talk to your doctor about more options to address your eczema.

More Serious Itching

A woman with eczema scratching her arm

Severe and persistent itching should be addressed by consulting a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Conditions such as PUPPP, prurigo, and cholestasis are some possibilities that the doctor will consider.


PUPPP, or pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, causes intense itching with scattered bumps, typically appearing near the end of pregnancy.

Generally, PUPPP is treated the same way you would treat a mild itch. However, if it’s really bothering you, your doctor might prescribe anti-itch creams, antihistamine pills, or corticosteroids.

Your doctor will confirm what over-the-counter medication is safe for you and your baby.


Prurigo can occur at any time during pregnancy. Prurigo presents as itchy, crusty bumps on the arms, legs, and abdomen.

Prurigo during pregnancy is also primarily treated as we described above. But if it’s intense, your doctor might suggest antihistamines, hydrocortisone cream, or topical benzoyl peroxide.

Again, since you are pregnant, check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medication.


Cholestasis, a liver condition, can cause severe itching mainly on the hands and feet. Cholestasis is a serious concern in later pregnancy and requires immediate medical attention to rule out its risks.

Your healthcare provider may consider ursodeoxycholic acid as a treatment for cholestasis of pregnancy. This works to improve your liver’s function while lessening bile levels in your blood.

As cholestasis can result in very serious complications in pregnancy for both mother and child, your doctor may also recommend delivering the baby early, inducing labor at about 37 or 38 weeks.

Managing Itchy Skin During Pregnancy

We know itchy skin during pregnancy is less than ideal. But, in most cases, managing it is relatively simple. Here are some tips to help relieve the itchiness.

Mild Itching

If your itching is mild, count yourself lucky. And luckier still, most of these remedies will make you more comfy in general.

Wear Loose Clothes

First of all, you don’t want tight clothing rubbing against your itchy skin. Choose loose tops and pants that won’t cause further irritation.

Focus On Natural Materials

Although the looser fit will make a difference, you’ll also want to choose clothing made of natural, breathable materials, like cotton.

Take A Cool Bath

A woman relaxing in a cool bath to relieve her itchy skin

A cool bath can sometimes calm a mild itch. Just be sure to limit your soak to five to 10 minutes so you don’t worsen your symptoms.

If you’re still uncomfortable after the tub, try placing an ice pack on the itchy areas.

Apply Lotion Or Moisturizer

Slather a nice, thick lotion or moisturizer on your itchy skin. If dryness is the cause, adding moisture to your skin will help soothe it.

Look for gentle products with ingredients like shea butter, almond oil, coconut oil, aloe, or avocado oil. You can even try vitamin E oil for your itchy belly.

Apply the product of your choice to damp skin for best results, and try layering your products to maximize hydration.

Change Perfumes Or Detergents

If you think the itch is a reaction to the perfumes in your products, switch up your scented products for some unscented ones. Opt for products labeled “fragrance-free” and check the ingredient list.

Soak In An Oatmeal Bath

Taking a colloidal oatmeal bath can be a relaxing solution for itchy skin during pregnancy. Colloidal oatmeal binds to your skin, creating a protective barrier that soothes, moisturizes, and cleanses.

Sprinkle the oatmeal into lukewarm (not hot) water, but don’t soak too long. Ten minutes maximum should do the trick.

Stay Hydrated

You’ll want to drink lots of water if you’re suffering from itchy skin during pregnancy. If you find water boring, add a little flavor with some fresh fruit, like lemons, oranges, or strawberries.

You might also try using a humidifier to add hydration to the air in your home.

Don’t Scratch

As hard as it seems, don’t scratch your irritated skin. Intense scratching will only make you more uncomfortable and can even create tears in your skin that could lead to infection.

Check With Your Doctor

If itchiness is getting in the way of your day or, worse yet, interfering with your sleep, talk to your doctor.

Finding Sweet Relief

A pregnant woman thanking her doctor for helping her with itchy skin during pregnancy

If you’re suffering from itchy skin during pregnancy, you’re not alone. As we mentioned, if the itch is mild, a combination of wearing the right things, taking cool baths, hydrating your skin, and using fragrance-free products with soothing ingredients can help.

If your itch is more severe, talk to your doctor right away. They can tell you whether it’s something serious and what treatments are safe for you.

If eczema is causing your itch, Bodewell products like our Eczema Daily Calming Cream and Eczema Daily Calming Cream On-The-Go can hydrate your skin to help relieve eczema-related discomfort.

Now that you’ve soothed your delicate skin, you can focus on your sweet baby on the way!


American Academy of Dermatology
American Academy of Family Physicians
Cleveland Clinic
National Institute of Health

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