itching during pregnancy

Pregnancy brings about many obvious bodily changes and new conditions, like weight gain, a growing belly bump, and possibly some fatigue, moodiness, and nausea. But itching during pregnancy might be one that surprises you. Whether you experience vaginal itching during pregnancy, itchy skin, or just itching all over, you may wonder why no one warned you about this lesser-known nuisance! We’re here to help you discover why it happens and how to get relief from itching during pregnancy.

How Common Is Itching During Pregnancy, and When Does It Go Away?

Although not everyone suffers from this condition, about 20 percent of pregnant women do experience mild or moderate itching at some point during their pregnancy. It could occur at any time, and although it might be irritating and uncomfortable, it’s a normal part of being pregnant. Of course, always consult your healthcare provider if you have any concerns or questions. But once the scratching begins, it’s hard to stay focused on anything else! Your body itching during pregnancy is challenging, both physically and emotionally, but you can take comfort in knowing that this pesky symptom typically goes away after birth. Hang in there!

Itchy Skin During Pregnancy

If you start to notice your skin itching during pregnancy, know that you’re not alone. It turns out that 2 in 10 pregnant women will experience some itchiness on their abdomen or elsewhere on their body. The itching is typically caused by your growing belly bump, which results in dry, flaky, and stretched skin, sometimes accompanied by a rash. Along with itching, you might notice some stretch marks on your breasts, tummy, thighs, butt, or upper arms. As the name suggests, stretch marks occur when the skin stretches and loses elasticity due to hormonal shifts. In turn, your stretch marks might also itch!

Breasts Itching During Pregnancy

If your breasts are itching during pregnancy, it’s usually for the same reason as itchiness elsewhere: your skin is expanding, stretching, and drying out. Even during early pregnancy, you might notice some itching and significant changes in your breasts. Don’t be surprised if you grow one whole cup size during your first trimester! Most of that growth happens due to fat buildup and increased milk glands, all good things in preparation for feeding your baby. But do nipples itch during pregnancy, too? Yep, your entire breast is susceptible to itching, so you may notice itchiness on your areolas.

Vaginal Itching During Pregnancy

Vaginal itching during pregnancy, and itching around the urethra, can sometimes occur, and may be more likely to crop up as your pregnancy progresses. You might also notice some pain, burning, or vaginal discharge, all of which may be normal yet uncomfortable. Typically, these symptoms subside after giving birth. You may experience more vaginal itching during pregnancy because your fluctuating hormones can cause a pH imbalance, which could also lead to a yeast infection. Unfortunately, yeast infections and itching in the vaginal area during pregnancy are quite common, so don’t worry if you’re experiencing symptoms. Your healthcare provider can help you!

Anal Itching During Pregnancy

Of all the itching of your private parts during pregnancy, anal itching might be the most embarrassing. Just remember that your hormones are shifting, and with that comes changes that you can’t control. A common occurrence while pregnant is developing hemorrhoids, which are swollen blood vessels around the anus and rectum. You can blame both hormones and that typical pregnancy symptom constipation.

How to Get Relief From Itching During Pregnancy

It certainly helps to understand why itching during pregnancy happens, but it’s even more helpful to know how to get relief from it. Luckily, you can resolve most itching during pregnancy, whether it’s your first, second, or third trimester, with the following home remedies. And if you experience body itching during your pregnancy at night, these solutions can help soothe and calm irritation at all hours.

Stay Hydrated and Moisturize

When it comes to itching on your skin or breasts during pregnancy, the secret is to stay hydrated and keep your skin moisturized. As your skin stretches and hormones shift, you may develop a drier and flakier epidermis, which can start to itch. Drinking lots of fluids and applying moisturizer, cream, or oil to your belly, breasts, butt, legs, or any other area with expanding skin may help you find some relief.

Take a Cornstarch or Oatmeal Bath

Another way to soothe your skin naturally and at home is with a cornstarch or oatmeal bath. Both cornstarch and colloidal oatmeal (the type of oatmeal used in lotions and bath products) are known to calm irritated skin and might provide some relief. Plus, soaking in a bath sounds pretty nice while pregnant!

Wear Loose Clothing

Another simple way to remedy itching during pregnancy is wearing loose, natural clothing. You want to stay cool, and looser clothing made from materials like cotton or linen will keep you breezy. If you’re too warm, it could lead to more itching.

Use an Anti-Itch Cream From Your Healthcare Provider

If you’re suffering from vaginal or anal itching during pregnancy, consult with your healthcare provider for advice and treatment. Some over-the-counter creams may do the trick, but you can also use things like pads medicated with witch hazel (for anal itching) or ointment for yeast infections (it’s best to avoid any oral medication for these symptoms during pregnancy).

Eat a Fiber-Rich Diet

Because hemorrhoids can contribute to anal itching during pregnancy, and hemorrhoids may be triggered by constipation, try eating fiber-rich foods. Enjoying daily fruits and veggies might help, as can a fiber supplement. Just ask your healthcare provider to recommend a pregnancy-safe supplement.

Severe Itching During Pregnancy

Although most itching during pregnancy, including vaginal itching, is mild, there is a possibility of experiencing more severe or extreme itching. If this happens, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider the same day that you notice the symptoms, especially if you’re experiencing severe itching during pregnancy in months 7 to 9 (third trimester) or later.

  • Itching during your third trimester of pregnancy, specifically on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet, may indicate a liver condition called cholestasis. Because it affects your liver, there are some risks to your baby. It’s one of those important pregnancy warning signs to look out for.

  • Another condition that could trigger extreme itching during pregnancy, along with red and raised patches, is one commonly known as PUPPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy). It’s more typical in first pregnancies or pregnancies with multiples. Only about 1 out of every 160 pregnant women develops this issue, and there’s no risk to your baby.

The Bottom Line

Itching during pregnancy isn’t very comfortable, and it may be one of those pregnancy symptoms that sneak up on you. Luckily, itching is usually nothing to worry about, typically subsides after giving birth, and can be eased during pregnancy (all the way through your third trimester) with some home remedies.

Prepare yourself for other standard pregnancy symptoms by brushing up on the ABCs of pregnancy pains. And check out our Pregnancy Calendar to better understand what each week of pregnancy might bring.