What Causes Itching in Pregnancy?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2016
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Itching in pregnancy is a common complaint among women. For the most part, the itching is of no real medical significance and is thought to be due to normal hormone fluctuations that occur during pregnancy. However, severe itching in the third trimester, or last three months of pregnancy, should be reported to a physician. There is a rare condition called cholestasis that causes impaired gallbladder function in some women during the last trimester of pregnancy. For most itching in pregnancy, mild lifestyle changes, such as switching to a milder soap or adding oatmeal to bath water, can help to alleviate these bothersome symptoms.

Dry skin is considered to be one of the most common causes of itching in pregnancy. The medical term for this type of dry, scaling skin is xerosis and is considered a type of eczema. When this skin condition develops during pregnancy, a mild lotion can be used on the itchy areas of skin. It is also important to drink plenty of water in order to keep the body tissues hydrated.

Some women who experience itching in pregnancy find that there is a sensitivity to vitamins or other medications causing the itching. The doctor may suggest switching to a different type of prenatal vitamin in order to see if the itching improves. The patient should tell the doctor of all of the medications she is taking, including any vitamins or herbal medications.


Vaginal itching in pregnancy is a commonly reported issue for some women. The natural pH balance of the body is often altered during pregnancy, and this is the most common cause for the vaginal itching. However, it is important to report these symptoms to the doctor in order to rule out infection or sexually transmitted diseases, as each of these can also cause vaginal itching.

Cholestasis is a medical condition that can sometimes lead to itching in pregnancy, particularly involving the hands and feet. Cholestasis interferes with the normal flow of bile in the gallbladder and can cause intense itching during the last trimester of pregnancy. Other potential symptoms include dark urine, loss of appetite, and depression. These symptoms should be reported to the doctor right away so that appropriate medical testing can be ordered.

Once the doctor has ruled out any medical conditions that may need to be treated, most itching in pregnancy can be controlled at home. For instance, many women have reported gaining relief from putting a little baking soda in the bath water or making a paste with baking soda and water and applying it to the itchy area. Cold compresses placed on the location of the itching may provide some relief as well. Oatmeal added to bath water is a well-known remedy for itching, and many women find that using a mild soap made with honey and oatmeal not only helps to relieve the itching, but also softens the skin.


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Post 3

Another cause of itching during pregnancy, which my daughter is experiencing right now, is allergies. Pregnancy seems to make allergies worse. It's either due to hormones or the immune system weakening.

Her doctor does not see a cause of concern though and prescribed her a topical cream to use for now.

Post 2

@discographer-- I had never heard of that before. Thanks for mentioning it.

I do have some itching but it's not severe. It seems to come and go. I think it's due to hormones. But if it continues, I'll be sure to see a doctor. I also experience some itching on my stomach due to the skin stretching.

Post 1

A problem with kidney function during pregnancy can also cause intense itching. It happened to my friend. She had severe itching in the palms of her hands and in the soles of her feet. She was so itchy that she couldn't sleep and she actually injured herself scratching so much. After she saw a doctor, it turned out that her kidneys were not functioning normally. It was close to her due date so they went ahead and performed a c-section so as to not put the mother or child's health at risk.

She's fine now and so is her son. She is so glad that she saw the doctor about her intense itching.

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