It’s no secret that pregnancy will change your body in ways you’ve never deemed possible. Women commonly expect stretch marks, expanding midsections and swollen feet, but unexpected symptoms of pregnancy, like itchy skin, can be extremely uncomfortable. As you furiously try to relieve your itchiness, you might be wondering, why am I so itchy during pregnancy? Is this typical, or could something be amiss?
In an interview with Romper, Dr. Sherry Ross, a Santa Monica OB-GYN, mentions that itchy skin during pregnancy can be a typical reaction of your body to hormonal changes. "Due to all the normal physiologic and hormonal changes during pregnancy, skin can become dry and itchy," Ross says. "Mild itching is considered a normal symptom of pregnancy." She suggests some ways to relieve or minimize itching, including a daily warm bath with extra virgin coconut oil, using a non-fragrant moisturizer, and wearing loose clothing made of cotton.
Hormones seem to be the culprit to most pregnancy symptoms. When speaking with Romper, Dr. Heather Bartos, MD and Fellow of The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (FACOG), also mentions that hormones can cause increased sensitivity in your skin, leading to reactions you may not typically have had. "Hormones can change your natural reaction to even your everyday skin care, causing itchiness," she says. "Newly forming stretch marks can also itch."
While both doctors agree that mild itchiness is common and expected, more severe itching can be a sign of a more pressing condition. Ross mentions that there is a medical condition called cholestasis of pregnancy, which can cause itching, but is much more serious. "Cholestasis occurs in the third trimester of pregnancy, and itching becomes progressively more severe, especially at night," says Ross. It is important to talk to your doctor if you experience this, since cholestasis can lead to complications in your pregnancy.
If your skin is itchy during pregnancy, chalk it up to hormones. Changing up your skin care, resisting fragrances, or even switching laundry detergents can help. If the itchiness seems intense or unmanageable, talk to your doctor to rule out other conditions in order to keep you and baby as comfortable as possible.