Itching is a skin condition that often suffered by women during pregnancy. Of course, it leads to an uncomfortable feeling of constantly scratching the affected area and sometimes it also comes with red rashes and blisters. Itching during pregnancy is commonly caused by dry skin, stretching of the skin, and PUPPP symptoms (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy).
Dry Skin and Stretching of the Skin
Dry skin during pregnancy is usually normal because it is a change the body goes through due to the hormonal change during pregnancy. The skin condition usually starts on the first trimester along with the beginning growth of the body. Most skin conditions during pregnancy fades away after giving birth. Itching on dry skin can also be caused by the stretching of the skin.
During pregnancy, the breasts and belly area grow bigger which make the skin stretch and causing drier skin. This dryness ignites an itching sensation. Combined with hormonal change, the itching can spread to every area of the body with or without rashes. Other skin condition, like stretchmarks and pigmentation is believed to be hereditary.
Other condition that can result in symptoms of skin rash and itching during pregnancy is PUPPP. It is caused by an increase of estrogen and HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadatrophin) hormone, and can also be the symptom of a kidney disorder. Pregnant women can suffer from PUPPP or pruritus with or without the appearance of skin rash.Very few women actually suffer from PUPPP, only 1,5-2% of pregnant women have this skin condition and 14% experiencing the symptoms.
During pregnancy, women’s skin become more sensitive and doing simple mistakes, such as bathing in hot water for too long or scrubbing the skin too hard can lead to the exfoliation of epidermis that may cause itching. With the increasing growth of the belly area, the affected area becomes more fragile to fungal infection. Pruritus can also be caused by allergic reaction to certain medicines or vitamins. Symptoms of some diseases can also trigger pruritis, such as pregnancy autoimmune, infections, and cholestasis.
Cholestasis during pregnancy happens due to hormonal change in the gallbladder that lowers or eliminates its function and increases bilirubin level in the liver, which enters the bloodstream and causing the symptom of itching. Other thing that can trigger pruritis is the consumption of birth control pill for the next pregnancy.
Signs and symptoms of pruritus usually occur on the first trimester (30 weeks of pregnancy), but can also happen on the second trimester. The symptoms are including darker shade of urine, jaundice eyes, and yellowish skin. Pruritus on the abdomen is typically caused by distension of the abdomen skin that forms striae or stretch marks with reddish brown stripes.
And because itching and rashes can cause by cholestasis, pregnant women experiencing this symptoms should ask their doctors for a gallbladder serum laboratory test. Pruritus symptoms can be more severe on first or twin pregnancy, but it will easily fade away once the baby is born. The skin condition is more likely to come back on the next pregnancy, which happens to 50% of women.