A lot of pregnant women and new moms experience extremely dry and itchy skin. This is because of the hormonal changes that can deplete the skin of lipids during and immediately after pregnancy. Usually, appearance of dry skin during pregnancy is seen in the initial months of pregnancy or in the first trimester. Dry skin during pregnancy in the third trimester is also common. Dry and itchy skin during pregnancy can be troublesome at times. The neck, hands, and face are the most commonly affected parts. Other body parts like elbows, knees, and heels may also get affected by skin dryness during pregnancy. Some pregnant women may develop dry skin on the stomach and the breasts as well.
Dry skin in pregnancy is more likely to become scratchy or itchy. Scratching the skin can lead to small tears or cracks in the skin. This makes it susceptible to infections and scarring. If a pregnant woman already has a history of eczema, then dry skin during pregnancy can also cause an eczema outbreak.
Understanding the cause of dry and itchy skin in pregnancy is necessary to take preventive measures for the same. Most of the time the condition of dry and itchy skin during pregnancy gets controlled with simple home remedies and certain skin care tips when followed correctly.
What causes dry & itchy skin during pregnancy?
These are the probable causes of itchy and dry skin during pregnancy:
Pregnancy brings along lots of hormonal imbalance. Sudden rise in estrogen levels causes trans epidermal water loss, which causes dry skin in pregnancy. The skin’s elasticity and moisture is lost due to hormonal changes. The fluctuating hormones cause thinning, weakening or even breakdown of the hydrolipidic barrier of the skin, which allows the skin’s natural moisture to evaporate easily. This results in cracked, itchy and dry skin in pregnancy. Also, as the skin stretches to accommodate the baby, the growing belly can become extremely dry and itchy.
Lack of hydration can cause extreme skin dryness during pregnancy. The simple solution is to drink adequate water and stay hydrated. Your body needs around 3 liters of fluid intake every day.
Pregnancy cravings, morning sickness and other hormonal issues can alter dietary preferences. Also some foods that normally don’t harm the skin much, can suddenly become harsh during pregnancy. High trans fat diets, sugary foods, processed foods, salty foods, alcohol, caffeine, refined carbohydrates, baked and packaged foods can interfere with the skin’s natural protective function, change the skin thickness, disrupt the skin’s moisture locking ability, cause inflammation, and result in skin dryness during pregnancy.
“The skin is the mirror of your health”
Stress may manifest in the form of acne breakout, wrinkles, dark circles and dry skin in pregnancy. Pregnancy-stress causes chemical imbalance in the body making the skin sensitive and reactive. Stress may weaken the skin’s barrier protection, and hamper its ability to retain moisture. It also interferes with the skin’s healing process, and can aggravate conditions like psoriasis, rosacea, eczema, hives, and other skin rashes, and may also trigger flare-ups of fever blisters.
The cause of pregnancy dry skin can be one or multiple, but proper care, lifestyle modification, and dietary changes help to manage the dry and itchy skin during pregnancy.
Also Read: Pregnancy Skin Care
How can you prevent your skin from getting dry during pregnancy?/ How to prevent itchy and dry skin during pregnancy?
Choosing right skin care products, skin care regime and adapting few healthy habits help prevent itchy and dry skin during pregnancy:
Use mild cleansers
Stay away from chemical-based cleansers and treatments (e.g. peels), which can potentially be absorbed through the skin. Use products that are allergen-free and double up to offer multiple benefits in one solution. Mild and all natural products are the safest for use during pregnancy and lactation phase. Use a natural face wash to prevent your skin from drying out and flaking.
The Moms Co recommends the best natural mild cleanser:
NATURAL VITA RICH FACE WASH
The Moms Co. Natural Vita Rich Face Wash is an enriching, mild cleanser for everyday cleansing for even the most sensitive skin type. It is enriched with Vitamins like C, B3, B5.
Steam sessions should be limited to once a week and only upto 6 minutes. Excessive steam and heat dilates the blood vessels, contributing to redness, and dryness of the skin. Steaming for more than eight minutes can make the skin very dry. Clean your steamer to check bacterial build-up as it can cause skin itching.
Add bath oils to your tub
Bath oils can moisturize the dry skin in pregnancy effectively. Regular use of bath oils improves the barrier protection of the skin and reduces the transepidermal water loss.
Moisturize in the morning and before bed
All natural moisture is good to use multiple times a day in pregnancy. Hydrators in the moisturizer add water to the surface of the skin and prevent moisture loss. Moisturize right after taking a bath when your skin is most receptive to aid. Use a hydrating product for particularly raw patches, with natural lipids like shea butter and for dry, reddish patches look for products that contain sea buckthorn.
The Moms Co recommends using the best moisturizer that is completely safe during pregnancy:
NATURAL BODY BUTTER
The Natural Body Butter is an all natural combination of cocoa, shea butter and moisturizing oils. It increases your skin’s natural elasticity, providing comfort to the stretching belly, hips and breasts. It is clinically tested to provide 24 hours moisturization.
Treat Stretch Marks And Dry Skin
Stretch marks tear the epidermis and dermis layers of the skin. Use stretch marks reduction creams, anti-itch creams, and moisturizers which will help the healing of stretch marks and relieve the dry skin during pregnancy. Taking care of stretch marks, avoids the chances of skin itching during pregnancy.
The Moms Co recommends using best stretch marks oil:
NATURAL STRETCH OIL
Natural Stretch Oil is a rich combination of 7 Natural Oils & Vitamin E that increases the skin’s elasticity and controls the appearance of stretch marks. All products by The Moms Co. are Australia-certified toxin-free, Australia Allergy Certified and Dermatologically Tested, PeTA Certified Cruelty Free.
Protect Your Skin
Protect the skin from environmental damage, UV rays and harsh weather. Wear full sleeve clothes during winters, as dry winter air causes skin dryness. Apply a moisturizing sunscreen body lotion which will protect the skin from UV radiation and trans-epidermal water loss.
Eat healthy to maintain healthy skin. Fruits like watermelon, muskmelon, pineapples, peaches, oranges, cantaloupe, strawberries and coconut water are high in fluid content which provides good hydration to the dry skin in pregnancy. Vegetables like cucumber, broccoli, bell peppers, celery, lettuce, zucchini, tomatoes, radish, cabbage, capsium, spinach are also rich sources of hydration. Foods that can naturally moisturize the skin from within include fruits like papaya, kiwi, and banana, and veggies like sweet potatoes. Almonds, flaxseeds, oat milk, cod liver oil, oysters, sunflower and chia seeds also help prevent itchy-dry skin during pregnancy.
Hydration is the most important remedy for tackling skin issues, and health issues. Good hydration helps the body to detox, and provides water to every cell for better functioning. Staying hydrated regulates body temperature, keeps joints lubricated, delivers nutrients to cells and tissues, prevents infections, improves sleep quality, cognition and keeps the mood happy. Staying well hydrated is the easiest solution to prevent pregnancy skin dryness and itching.
Use a humidifier
A humidifier adds moisture to the dry air. Using a humidifier will prevent trans-epidermal water loss, and keep skin dryness during pregnancy under control.
Try these simple day-to-day tips that will help prevent itchiness and dryness of the skin during pregnancy. Be gentle with your skin, do not rub your skin harshly with a towel, pat dry instead.
Is it Normal to Have Dry and Itchy Skin in Pregnancy?
Yes it is normal and very common to have dry skin during pregnancy, because pregnancy is a roller-coaster of hormonal imbalance which may disrupt the natural skin cell cycles. The wear and tear of the skin due to growing pregnant belly causes skin dryness, itching and trans-epidermal water loss. Using a hydrating natural moisturizer helps soothe the skin dryness during pregnancy.
When to Consult a Doctor
Acute and widespread dryness of the skin which does not get cured by home remedies will need professional medical evaluation and treatment. As pregnancy can cause sudden outbreak of skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or hives. Do not use any over the counter medications for dry and itchy skin without consulting a doctor, as some medications can be contraindicated during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, the skin on the belly is particularly prone to dryness and itchiness. It is never a good idea to scratch the skin as it can lead to darkening of stretch marks. Use a body butter cream with natural butters such as Shea and Cocoa butters to deeply moisturize and soothe the skin. It is important to pay attention to the ingredients of the skin care products, as chemical products can be harmful during pregnancy for the baby. Choose completely natural skin care and face care products for treating skin dryness during pregnancy, to ensure the safety of the new mom and the baby.