Why am I itching?

Most itching in pregnancy is related to dry skin. A good lotion can go a long way in reducing or eliminating itching related to this problem. In some cases, itching confined to one area may be related to a reaction to something; we call this contact dermatitis. If you suspect this is the case, try to avoid whatever you came into contact with and think about any new lotions, detergents, or anything coming into contact with your skin or clothing. Consider using an antihistamine or an over-the-counter steroid cream to resolve the rash.

In rare cases, itching all over the body that is not associated with a rash can be due to intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP). ICP is an important diagnosis to not miss and your doctor may need to check some labs to make sure you don’t have this. If you do, she will prescribe medicine to improve the situation and she will likely deliver you a couple of weeks earlier than normal.

Lastly, if you have little red dots, plaques, or raised bumps that develop and are itchy during pregnancy, you may have polymorphic eruption of pregnancy (PEP). It most commonly shows up on the belly or legs. We treat this similarly to other rashes with topical steroid creams, antihistamines, or oral steroids if necessary, and soothing baths/lotions/loose clothing can help with the itchiness. When the itching gets really bad, trying cold ice packs to calm it down can be very helpful.

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