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Got an itch that just won’t quit? Itchy skin during pregnancy is a common, if annoying, problem for many expecting moms. And fortunately, it’s usually an easily solvable one.
What causes itchy skin during pregnancy?
A common cause for itch is dry skin during pregnancy. For many women, changes in your hormone levels, immune system and the environment can sap the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness. And when your skin’s natural barrier is compromised, nerve endings in the top of the skin become irritated (clothing and beauty products may also increase sensitivity).
Around the month 5 or 6 of pregnancy, your belly may also start to itch — and itch more as time goes on. That’s because your expanding baby bump stretches your skin, in turn stretching nerve endings and triggering itchiness.
An itchy belly accompanied by a rash may be pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) or polymorphic eruption of pregnancy (PEP). These annoying but benign conditions appear in some expecting moms starting around the third trimester, possibly linked to a genetic cause, and disappear after childbirth.
How can you treat itchy skin during pregnancy?
A number of simple solutions can be effective at soothing itchy skin during pregnancy.
Bathing with a gentle cleanser and applying a lotion daily often does the trick to keep skin moisturized and supple. For an itchy belly during pregnancy, a belly balm or vitamin E oil will also help moisturize your skin.
Using a humidifier in your bedroom at night also keeps the air moist and skin moisturized. And talk to your doctor about using an anti-itch lotion with natural ingredients like calamine or menthol. Never hesitate to get in touch with your practitioner, too, if the itch persists or if you’re otherwise concerned.
Scratching to ease the itch? Here are a few top itchy skin remedies during pregnancy.
See registry advice and a custom baby gear checklist
Best Gentle Cleanser for Itchy Skin
CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash
Available at Amazon starting at $12See NowWhy We Love It
Dry skin is usually also sensitive skin. Avoid most bar soaps or antibacterial soaps, which strip your skin of moisture. Instead, look for a gentle non-soap cleanser like CeraVe, which contains ceramides, a compound that helps to restore your skin’s natural oils.
Best All-Over Lotion for Itchy Skin
Dove Cream Oil Intensive Body Lotion
Available at Target starting at $7See NowWhy We Love It
Apply a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer right after you get out of the shower to seal in moisture. Dove’s Cream Oil gentle body lotion contains skin-nourishing oil in a fast-absorbing moisturizer.
Best Heavy-Duty Moisturizer for Itchy Skin
A+D Diaper Rash Ointment & Skin Protectant
Available at Rite Aid starting at $4See NowWhy We Love It
To tackle extra-dry spots like elbows and knuckles, use A+D ointment with ultra-moisturizing lanolin and petrolatum — which you can also use later on to heal baby’s diaper rash. For an all-natural option, try organic pure coconut oil.
Best Bath Treatment for Itchy Skin
Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment
Available at Amazon starting at $7See NowAlso available at:
$6.29Why We Love It
Oatmeal baths are often recommended for all sorts of itchy skin problems — eczema, insect bites, rashes, chickenpox, hives and PUPPP — to soothe skin and reduce both redness and inflammation. The finely-milled oatmeal in the Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment’s gentle, fragrance-free formula provides temporary skin protection, and relieves irritation and itching.Community ReviewsAaaaaaah!
“I took an oatmeal bath tonight. It felt great on my skin.”- fxinctMy Best Friend
“I love Aveeno. It’s become my best friend this pregnancy.”- ticoronado5Lots of Relief
“I didn’t take the [Aveeno] bath. I simply diluted a pack in water to create a paste. I put the paste in the fridge and applied it in the very itchy parts with a gauze. This won’t remove the rash, but it will give you a lot of relief when you are desperate.”– acemacuCalmed My Skin
“I have been quite itchy, too, and found that an oatmeal bath really helped (before bedtime as my itching is worse at night)….The oil really calmed my skin. I’ve also had to moisturize my skin several times a day.”- mrsaoifes
Best Oil Treatment for Itchy Skin
Garden of Life Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
$8.99Why We Love It
Any mom must-have that multitasks can be a godsend. Coconut oil is one such product. The cooking ingredient doubles as an anti-itch treatment during pregnancy. Plus, What to Expect community moms use it as a nipple salve during breastfeeding and a moisturizer for babies (especially to treat diaper rash and cradle cap). Make sure the coconut oil you pick up at the grocery store, like Garden of Life’s coconut oil, is organic, which is best for you (and your little one), and extra-virgin, which has antibacterial properties that makes it safer when using it on your skin.
Best Butter Treatment for Itchy Skin
Motherlove Pregnant Belly Salve
Available at Amazon starting at $18See NowWhy We Love It
Plenty of belly butters promise to ease itchy pregnancy bellies and reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Motherlove’s belly salve contains super-moisturizing shea butter, plus soothing lavender and rosehips — so it’s lovely to smell, too.
Best Cooling Lotion for Itchy Skin
Sarna Sensitive Anti-Itch Lotion
Available at Rite Aid starting at $10See NowWhy We Love It
The menthol and camphor in Sarna’s anti-itch lotion are often used to soothe eczema, psoriasis and poison ivy irritations, but they can also help with an extra-intense case of PUPPP. Just check with your doctor or dermatologist first if your skin is on the sensitive side.Community ReviewsWorks Like a Charm
“Sarna anti-itch lotion works like a charm.”- bk200It Stopped Me From Scratching
“Yeah, I was really, really itchy for a while there. I found this great lotion called Sarna. It comes in regular lotion and super-strength cream. It’s for people with eczema and it’s amazing. It’s the only thing that stopped me from scratching myself until I’d bleed.”- jaraetaylorUsed It Even Before Pregnant
“Before getting pregnant I would often get really itchy legs and Sarna always worked best. It smells like the hospital, but soothing. I would just check with your MD before using.”- gnvdancerWorth Its Weight in Gold
“Sarna is seriously worth its weight in gold. The only way I get relief is lavender essential oil in my bath, then Sarna and then triamcinolone cream.”- ermommaem87