Itchy skin in pregnancy affects around two thirds of women. Although the exact cause is not known it is thought to be associated with the stretching and drying of the skin and increased oestrogen levels, body temperature and blood supply to the skin.
PUPPPS sounds cuddly but is actually an acronym for a condition of extremely itchy skin in pregnancy – Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy. Affecting one in 150 women it is most common in first time pregnancies and when expecting multiples. It can present as a rash of small pimples which usually starts on the tummy but can spread and affect the bottom, thighs and arms. Sometimes blisters will develop around the rash. If you experience extreme itchy skin in pregnancy it is important to have it checked by your health care professional, as another more serious cause of these symptoms is obstetric cholestasis which will require medical attention. You should be concerned if it is worse in the evenings and at night, your palms and soles are affected and your urine is dark and poo light in colour.
In the majority of cases itching skin in pregnancy does not pose a risk to you or your baby, and thankfully it will subside once your baby is born, but in the meantime you will want some relief. Your GP may prescribe anti-histamines and steroid creams if the symptoms become intolerable but it is worth trying some simple home remedies which can be very effective in relieving the symptoms in the first instance.
- Try cool wet compresses and showers.
- Oatmeal baths. Place oats in a muslin bag and suspend under a running tap.
- Wear loose clothing made from natural fibres to allow air to circulate and reduce friction and perspiration.
- Perfumed products can irritate the skin, see Scents and Sensitivity, so choose fragrance free.
- Keep the skin moisturised with oils or cream, as dryness will exacerbate the itch.
Nom Nom Organic Pregnancy Stretch Butter is fragrance free and has been formulated with anti- pruritic oils such as almond and shea butter to offer soothing relief.
Jayne Russell has over twenty years of experience as a pre’ and postnatal massage and nutritional therapist and is the founder of Nom Nom – award winning, certified organic pregnancy and baby skincare. Sign up for your free skincare guide “10 Steps to Super Healthy Baby Skin” at www.nomnomskincare.com