Itching in pregnancy is very common. It is usually due to the stretching of your skin from the growing baby and enlarging breasts, along with an increase in certain pregnancy related substances.
Using a moisturizer, mild soap, and cooler water when you wash will all help. Some people take cool oatmeal baths for relief as well. Pre-packaged oatmeal baths are available in most drugstores, or you can make it yourself by adding one cup (250 ml) of finely powdered oatmeal per bath.
If the itching is worse at night, try taking a very cool shower before bedtime. You can stay cool with fewer blankets and a lower thermostat setting, too.
Rarely, during your last trimester, you may develop extremely itchy red bumps that will often start along your stretch marks and spread to your stomach, thighs, and arms. This is called Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy (PUPPP). This condition is not dangerous to you or your baby, but it will often affect your sleep. If you develop PUPPP, your doctor will prescribe medication and creams to help control the itching.
Pemphigoid Gestationis is rather rare. Small hive-like lesions form on your abdomen and then turn into itchy blisters. It will often spread to your arms and legs as well. It usually starts in the second half of your pregnancy but can be seen earlier. This condition can affect the baby and if diagnosed, you and your baby will be monitored very closely. Steroids will often be given to treat this condition.
A rare but severe pregnancy condition is called “cholestasis of pregnancy”. It is the result of a liver problem occurring during pregnancy where substances called bile acids accumulate in the blood stream. Severe itching develops over your body and often spreads to your palms and the soles of your feet. Unlike the other two previously mentioned itchy conditions, with Cholestasis of Pregnancy a rash is rarely seen on the skin. The bile acids can be dangerous to your baby. Do contact your health care provider immediately if you experience severe itching, especially on your palms and the soles of your feet.