Itching in pregnancy

Some itching around the stomach is normal as your skin is stretching around your growing baby.

What are the causes of itching in pregnancy?

As your stomach grows the skin on your stomach stretches, which may feel mildly itchy. Itching can also be caused by hormone changes.

Mild itching is not usually harmful to you or your baby. If you have mild itching you may find it helpful to:

  • wear loose clothes
  • wear cotton clothes and avoid ones that are made of synthetic or wool materials
  • have cool baths
  • avoid using strong perfume and use unperfumed soap
  • use lotion or moisturiser on your stomach
  • avoid spicy food, alcohol or caffeine.

Contact your midwife or doctor if you are itchy and have a rash. There are some skin conditions, that may need treatment, such as Polymorphic eruption of pregnancy. This condition can cause itching, a rash, small raised lumps and large inflamed areas of skin.It can be unpleasant and uncomfortable but it will not harm you or your baby.

Intrahepatic cholestasis

Itching can also be a symptom of a pregnancy condition called intraheptic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP, also known as obstetric cholestasis). This is a liver condition that can develop in pregnancy.

Normally, bile acids flow from your liver to your gut to help you digest food. In ICP, the bile acids don't flow properly and build up in your body instead. There's no cure for ICP, but it should go away once you've had your baby.

Itching is the main symptom of ICP, usually without a rash. The itch is often more noticeable on the palm of the hands and soles of the feet, but you may feel it all over the body.

For some women the itching is unbearable and can be is worse at night (but it can be mild for others).

Other symptoms of ICP can include:

  • dark wee
  • pale poo
  • sometimes people also have yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice).

Tell your midwife or doctor if you have itching, even if you think it’s mild. They will be able to give you more tests if needed, including blood tests, to make sure that it’s nothing serious. 

Find out more about intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP), also known as obstetric cholestasis (OC).

Read more

Sources

NHS Choices Itching and intrathpatic cholestasis of pregnancy www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/itching-obstetric-cholestasis-pregnant/ (Page last reviewed: 25/07/2016 Next review due: 25/07/2019)

CKS (2015) Itch in pregnancy https://cks.nice.org.uk/itch-in-pregnancy#!scenariorecommendation:6

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Last reviewed on September 27th, 2018. Next review date April 1st, 2017.

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Comments

  • By Isha (not verified) on 28 Sep 2018 - 12:10

    Hi
    I am 39 wks pregnant and have had a hanging skin in the vigina. Should I be worried?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 28 Sep 2018 - 12:15

    Please contact your local maternity unit/midwife and speak to them regarding your concern.

  • By Remember (not verified) on 23 Apr 2018 - 10:58

    Please help! im 8 weeks pregnant and experience very severe pain at my upper area of my stomach and is accompanied by getting pressed by urine that struggles to come out and the feeling of vomiting

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 26 Apr 2018 - 11:34

    Hi, Thank you for your comment.
    It can be very normal to experience feelings of nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy but with your abdominal pain and discomfort when trying to pass urine, it would be advisable that you call your GP so that they can check for any signs of a urine infection, then treatment can be given if needed. If the stomach pain gets worse or you have any bleeding then please seek medical advice as any abdominal pain or bleeding in pregnancy needs to be assessed. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Hollie thomas (not verified) on 18 Mar 2018 - 11:51

    Hi
    I'm 40 weeks 6 days pregnant.
    I have a bumpy rash on the lower part of my tummy over my stretch marks they are extremely itchy especially at night!! A cold flannel and Sudocrem calm it down but I have to do this several times a day. I'm seeing a midwife tomorrow but my mum is panicking saying I should call the midwife today...baby is still moving around fine and I feel fine except from being itchy. Could I get some advice?? :) thanks

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 19 Mar 2018 - 16:46

    Hi Hollie
    We are not here on the weekend so please excuse the delayed response. I hope that you have seen your midwife today. I would advise that you are seen. Your Mum is right! Good news that movements are normal but we would always check out a symptom like this at 40 +6.
    Take care

  • By Michaela (not verified) on 7 Feb 2018 - 22:59

    Hi All... been googling like crazy about this because I’m going out of my mind. I’m currently 36 + 4 weeks and past couple of weeks I’ve had really bad itching which makes things unbearable, especially at night.

    Literally itch all over and it’s a nightmare :(

    All LFTs have been normal until now but it’s really starting to get to me and I don’t know what to do.

    Should I ring my MAU and get their advice?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Feb 2018 - 15:37

    Hi Michaela,
    Sorry to hear that you are experience such unbearable itching. With the information that you have provided then the best advice would definitely be to ring your MAU for a review as it important that both you and your baby are monitored and you have a full set of blood tests. If we can support you further then please do make contact with us on 0800 0147 800. Take care, Tommy's midwives

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 13 Aug 2017 - 10:29

    Itching varies from night to night should I still let my Obgyn know? Its the left palm and both feet at 36 weeks pregnant with lower back ache and left side hip down hurting. Is all this normal?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 14 Aug 2017 - 15:58

    Yes, definitely ask advice from your midwife or doctor. Any pain or itching should be reported. It may be sensible to do a blood test to rule out anything abnormal. Best wishes Tommy's midwives

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 2 Mar 2017 - 10:19

    Hi, thanks for your comment. I'm sorry to hear that the itching is getting worse. Are you also having regular blood tests for a pregnancy condition called Obstetric cholestasis?

    https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/pregnancy-complications/obstetric-cholestasis/intraheptic-cholestasis

    I would advise you to contact your maternity unit as soon as possible to let them know the itching is worsening and the creams/antihistamines not helping. Also if there are any other concerns such as baby moving less than normal for your baby.
    Try to avoid anything that might irritate your skin such as perfumed soaps and detergents -use sensitive skin alternatives and also avoid too hot showers or baths as hot water can also irritate skin.
    Hope this helps
    Tommy's Midwife

  • By Stephanie (not verified) on 28 Feb 2017 - 13:12

    Been told i have pupps but itching getting worse anything to ease it on cream and antihistamines

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