Pregnancy is a roller coaster journey! There are many physical, psychological, and emotional changes happening at the same time, the list being endless. Sometimes, itchy stretch marks add in with the other pregnancy symptoms making you even more uncomfortable and irritated. Though itchiness can be anywhere, stomach itching during pregnancy is the most common. Itchy pregnant belly issue usually starts at the beginning of the third trimester, due to the rapid stretching, and tearing of the dermis layer of the skin; as the belly grows significantly during that period. This tearing often results in stretch marks and an itchy belly. Since there is a wear and tear on the dermal layer, itching sensations are constantly created, mild or strong.
Causes Of An Itchy Belly During Pregnancy
Itchy stomach during pregnancy can be caused due to many factors that change a woman’s body during the 9th month of pregnancy and many times last for a few months after birth. Usually easy to be treated, the causes of the itchy pregnant belly can be:
Pregnancy involves lots of hormonal imbalance; causing mood swings, and problems like belly itching during pregnancy. The raised levels of certain hormones in the blood are one of the main causes of itchy stretch marks.
There is rapid weight gain during the third trimester of pregnancy. As you gain this necessary weight and get your baby bump; the skin of your tummy gets stretched, which causes pregnancy stretch marks. These stretch marks occasionally begin to start feeling itchy.
The rapid stretching of skin that occurs during the late pregnancy, makes the skin dehydrated. The moisture deprived skin causes an itchy pregnant belly. Regularly moisturizing the itchy tummy during pregnancy relieves the symptoms.
Healing stretch marks
Healing skin tends to be itchy, as the nerves signal the spinal cord that there is skin stimulation, in response histamines are released which cause itching. Hence the healing pregnancy stretch marks tend to itch.
A liver condition called intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (obstetric cholestasis) can also be a causative factor, which needs medical attention. Other than the itchy pregnant belly, there is itching on hands and feet also. However, there is only an itchy sensation with no rashes over or around the affected area.
Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) rash is a condition that appears on and around the stretch marks causing itchy belly buttons during pregnancy. The doctor will examine your skin to diagnose this pregnancy rash and guide you with suitable treatment. Usually, the PUPPP rash goes away in a few weeks after the delivery.
This is a very rare pregnancy related autoimmune disorder. It is an extremely irritating itchy rash on your abdomen and torso. It usually starts with a series of red bumps on your torso which spread to other areas, and sometimes may also develop fluid-filled blisters on the affected areas. The flaring of autoimmunity creates skin inflammation and fluid built-up between the layers of skin causing pregnancy rash on the belly. The skin specialist may prescribe topical corticosteroids and antihistamines to relieve the itching.
Is It OK To Scratch Your Itchy Belly During Pregnancy?
It is not advisable to scratch your itchy pregnant belly, as it can worsen the irritation. The problem of itchy skin isn’t about the itchiness but the tempting feeling of scratching away the itchiness. Since the skin on your belly is much thinner and fragile, scratching may lead to deep cuts resulting in infections.
Can Scratching Your Belly Cause Stretch Marks?
It is not at all okay to scratch your itchy stomach during pregnancy. But it’s a myth that needs to be debunked that scratching your belly causes stretch marks. No, it is the other way around, the stretch marks cause the itchy belly during pregnancy.
Does Itching Stretch Marks Make Them Worse?
Stretch marks usually fade into lighter hues but the scars would not! Scratching the stretch marks deepens them and leaves behind scars that sometimes cause a serious skin infection. And, infections are bad! Especially when you are pregnant with a baby. So, to relieve yourself from an itchy stomach during pregnancy, you can try out various natural and pregnancy-safe remedies to help you with stretch marks removal.
- Apply a cold, wet cloth or ice pack on your itchy stretch marks, for about 5-10 minutes or until the itch subsides.
- Use a natural anti-itch cream during pregnancy, which is free of harsh chemicals, or additives. Place this moisturizer in the refrigerator to achieve a more soothing and cooling effect.
- Moisturize your itchy pregnant belly gently with clean hands.
Remedies That Can Help Soothe Itchy Belly During Pregnancy
Though you can’t control the hormone levels, here are some remedies that can help soothe itchy belly during pregnancy:
Keep yourself hydrated
Dehydration makes your skin dry and can lead to itchiness. Drink enough water even if you don’t feel thirsty. You should at least drink 2 liters of water every day.
Use natural skincare products
The products that are toxin-free, mild, and gentle on the skin are best suited for an itchy stomach during pregnancy. Chemicals like Sulfates which are commonly used in soaps and body washes can be harsh, and strip off the skin’s moisture.
Apply medicines before moisturizing
Consult a dermatologist for medications, like topical anti-itch cream for pregnant belly. Apply it as instructed and then after 5 mins moisturize the skin including the areas treated with the medication.
Handle skin gently
Be gentle with your skin while bathing, and pat it dry after the bath, instead of rubbing the skin for drying.
Massage the affected parts like belly, thighs gently with nourishing and moisturizing natural oils. Choose oils rich in Vitamin E such as Almond Oil as it can help reduce itching and inflammation.
Make pastes containing natural ingredients like oats or oat milk and gram flour, cocoa butter, coconut oil, which are effective in providing relief from stomach itching during pregnancy, as they are known to hydrate and protect the skin from dryness.
Wear light and loose clothes
Wear loose, comfortable clothes that do not irritate your skin. Light clothing helps tackle any skin related issues, as it allows your skin to breathe and does not cause irritation on rubbing with the skin.
Gain weight gradually
Ensure you gain weight gradually during your pregnancy and discuss this with your doctor. Rapid weight gain triggers skin tearing, stretch marks, dryness, and an itchy pregnant belly.
Avoid harsh exposures
Exposing yourself to extreme changes in temperature, dust, pollution, and the sun, dry out the skin and cause itchiness. These harsh and harmful exposures can also be harmful to your baby.
Taking an oatmeal bath can be very soothing for dry, itchy skin. It is best suited to relieve the urge to scratch your itchy belly during pregnancy, as the oatmeal bath is completely natural.
Bathe with lukewarm water
It is recommended to bathe with lukewarm water and not with hot water, as hot water bathing tends to dry skin more. Try limiting your bath time to 10 minutes, as excessive contact with water takes away the skin’s natural moisture.
Use fragrance-free products
Products like soap, detergents or lotions with fragrances can irritate the itchy belly. The ‘unscented’ label is not enough to choose any products as it may still contain chemicals, so select natural and unscented products.
Maintain a comfortable room temperature and neutral humidity in the house, by using a humidifier. In winters skin is prone to dry out so humidifiers help regulate the humidity in the room.
Aloe vera gel
It is one of the best natural cooling agents. It gives a soothing, hydrating, and moisturized effect to the skin as it aids in reducing inflammation. Applying aloe vera gel to your itchy tummy during pregnancy is safe and effective.
Coconut oil can be used for added moisturization for the skin. It seeps into the dry parts of the skin and hydrates it. Coconut oil has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and soothing properties which reduce the itchy stomach. Apply the coconut oil in a massaging way to enhance its absorption in the itchy stretch marks.
Take a balanced diet
A diet full of Vitamins C, D, E, and minerals like Zinc facilitates skin to be healthy. Include ample amounts of protein and fats in your diet. Add nuts, seeds, fish, and green vegetables for proper skin nourishment. Stay away from caffeine and foods with high salt or sugar content.
Meditation and yoga
This will help calm your nerves and divert your mind from the urge to scratch. However, take your doctor’s advice before starting yoga or any exercise regime during pregnancy. Meditation reduces stress, which is important during pregnancy as breakouts, inflammation, and dry skin are some examples of the body’s reaction to the stress.
Cut Down Air Conditioner usage
Air conditioners make the air in the room dry. When you stay in a room with air conditioning for a long time, your skin starts drying too. In turn, the skin dryness causes itching.
Care for stretch marks
Stretch marks and pregnancy go hand-in-hand! Stretch marks begin by tearing the dermis to the epidermis layers of your skin, without causing pain. But when combined with itching, it becomes a headache. When you take care of your stretch marks, it avoids the chances of an itchy pregnant belly. Using stretch marks reduction creams, anti-itch creams, and moisturizers aid in healing the stretch marks.
The best itchy stretch mark cream for pregnancy should be free of Mineral Oils, Parabens and other additives. It should contain natural nourishing ingredients like:
- Almond Oil
- Jojoba Oil
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Shea butter
- Cocoa butter
- Sea Buckthorn Oil
- Rosehip Oil
The Moms Co. Recommends the best products for itchy stretch marks during pregnancy:
- Stretch Marks Bundle
It reduces stretch marks with its Natural Body Butter and Stretch Oil. As it is infused with Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Rosehip Oil, and Sea Buckthorn oil, providing 24 hours of moisturization. Use it every day after bath, applying it in a massaging manner.
- Natural Stretch Oil
Enriched with a combination of 7 natural oils like Coconut Oil, Rosehip Oil, Sea Buckthorn oil, and Vitamin E, it feels non- greasy while preventing skin damage. The Moms Co. Natural Stretch Oil controls stretch marks, improves skin elasticity, and provides a soothing effect to the stomach itching during pregnancy.
- Natural Body Butter
Being the best product to soothe the itchy belly, it also moisturizes and prevents itchy and stretchy skin. It is a rich combination of Cocoa Butter and Shea butter comforting the stretching belly, hips, and breasts. It clinically provides 24 hours of moisturization.
Try these simple and quick remedies, to free yourself from the itchy stomach during pregnancy. While keeping your skin moisturized is important to prevent itching and stretch marks, it’s equally important to be mindful of the ingredients that should be present in the cream.
When To Call Your Doctor About An Itchy Belly During Pregnancy
When you do not get any relief from the home remedies, it is better to consult your doctor. If you notice the following problems see a medical specialist:
- Itchiness all over the body in addition to the itchy stomach.
- Itching feels very severe and spreads to other body parts.
- There is a change in color of your bowels and urine, fatigue, loss of appetite, severe rashes.
- The underlying cause of itching is not dryness but conditions like eczema or allergies.
- There is development of rashes on and around the itchy stomach during pregnancy.
Notice the patterns of itching and stretch marks. Anything unusual must be consulted with a doctor.
It is best to start the stretch marks care routine from the beginning of your pregnancy, and advisable to use the stretch marks cream even after the pregnancy as well. Itchy pregnant belly is completely natural and can be managed with consistent care and precautions.