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While back pain and swollen feet are among the problems that get the most attention, itchy feet during pregnancy are often the underdog here. An extremely frequent ailment also referred to as pruritus, itching during pregnancy affects around 20% of females. Some of them itch all over, while others only notice it on certain body regions like their hands, belly, feet, or chest.
Although most itching is plain bothersome, excessive itching can cause sleep loss or even be a sign of potentially serious medical conditions. We’ll discuss potential causes, potential remedies, and when to consult a physician about itchy feet. But before that, let’s find out the difference between cholestasis and pruritus.
What is Pruritus and Cholestasis?
Pruritus gravidarum is a skin condition whose most common symptom is itching. It may or may not cause cholestasis and is often accompanied by secondary lesions.
Cholestasis of pregnancy, otherwise known as intrahepatic cholestasis, is a liver condition that occurs quite late into pregnancy. Its most common symptom is itching feet or hands with no rashes. So that makes cholestasis a cause of itchy feet during pregnancy.
Your doctor will check on you and the baby more frequently if you do have cholestasis. Some potential therapies and examinations include
- Blood tests for your biophysical profile
- Non-stress test to determine your liver function
- Early delivery of your baby
- Medicine, such as ursodiol, can assist reduce bile collection
- Bathing itchy areas in cool or lukewarm water
Causes & Symptoms of Itchy Feet During Pregnancy
1. Hormonal Skin Changes
As you’ve undoubtedly observed, your hormones during pregnancy are out of control. The endocrine system’s increased activity can make your skin itchy. Besides that, your immune system behaves differently while you are pregnant; it temporarily boosts or inhibits specific functions to promote the best potential growth for your unborn child.
Some skin issues that are peculiar to pregnancy and may result in itching feet can be brought on by the interaction of hormones and immune system changes. You might observe:
- Tiny, itching pimples that look like mosquito bites (prurigo)
- Itching, rash-like hives (PUPP)
- Itching, scaly red patches (eczema or AEP)
The good news is that these skin disorders shouldn’t persist after you give birth and won’t harm your kid.
2. Nerve Sensitivity
Some pregnant women discover that their nerves just seem so much more sensitive during pregnancy, once again thanks to the pregnancy hormones. So, things that might appear “normal”—sweating, being heated, donning tight clothing, chafing, donning the incorrect shoes, or even simply resting in bed—can cause your feet to itch.
We’re referring to the stretching of the skin, not the kind you do in your pregnant yoga sessions. Stretching the skin on your abdomen, buttocks, thighs, and breasts is one of the wonderful transformations your body goes through to fit that swiftly growing little human.
Stretch marks may be more or less likely to form depending on your genes, hormones, and amount of weight gain (striae gravidarum). Itching may be brought on by these stretch marks.
Although stretch marks are unlikely to appear on your feet, pregnancy causes them to carry more weight and the ligaments to stretch, which can cause an itching sensation.
If you had psoriasis before becoming pregnant, you may find a pleasant respite from symptoms while you are expecting. Studies show about 10% to 20% of pregnant women feel this respite. However, some pregnant women continue to have uncomfortable, itchy plaques, which might appear on their feet.
Finally, we have intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, a rare but significant cause of itchy feet during pregnancy. The third trimester is typically when this liver problem manifests itself.
Bile is typically transported by your liver to your digestive system, where it participates in the breakdown of dietary fat. Because of malfunctioning liver function, bile acids might accumulate in your body as a result of hormonal fluctuations, digestive changes, and potential hereditary susceptibility. This bile buildup can cause severe itching on your hands and feet in particular.
Your infant can be in danger if they have cholestasis. Premature birth, fetal distress, and even stillbirth are among the risks that may be raised by it.
Treatments for Itchy Feet During Pregnancy
There are several clinical treatments you can try to find relief and get the rest you need from itchy feet during pregnancy. A few of these include
1. Oatmeal Baths
What expecting momma doesn’t need a relaxing bath in the tub? This natural and efficient treatment is easy to try at home. Do consult your doctor before adding essential oils to your soak because some are unsafe for pregnant women or might aggravate your skin even more.
Your feet will feel paradise from the cool footbaths, chilly washcloths, or even ice packs bundled in towels to help calm irritated skin. But, apply the ice for no longer than 15 minutes.
3. New Socks
Get rid of those usual, tight socks you had been wearing because your feet need to breathe. Loose-fitting socks made of breathable, natural materials (like cotton or even wool) might help prevent sweaty, itching feet.
You, your partner, or any willing friend could massage your feet to calm your nerves and reduce itching. To avoid inducing uterine contractions, avoid applying pressure to acupressure points on your feet and the area surrounding your ankles. If you have any concerns about this, especially if your due date is still far off, consult your OB-GYN.
Itchy feet can be relieved with a basic, odorless moisturizer like shea butter, cocoa butter, or colloidal oatmeal. Before using any topical drugs during pregnancy, such as a calamine lotion or lotion with diphenhydramine (Benadryl), see your doctor.
Consult your doctor before using any drugs, even those that are available over the counter. Even if your itching feet are brought on by eczema or psoriasis, get a medical consultation before you intake any medicine during pregnancy. Your doctor can help you find safer options as many of these medications are unsafe to take while pregnant.
UVB phototherapy is a popular method of treating psoriasis while pregnant. If you’ve tried home treatments for itchy feet but they still aren’t helping you sleep, your doctor might be able to suggest a mild sleep medication to help you get some shut-eye despite the discomfort.
A Final Word on Itchy Feet During Pregnancy
The journey of pregnancy is both lovely and challenging. There might be some less-than-appealing side effects along the way in addition to all the excitement and expectation. Itchy feet could be one of them.
Numerous hormonal and immunologic changes might result in itchy feet in pregnancy. Oatmeal baths, ice packs, and moisturizers are a few remedies you can try at home to ease your agony. Your doctor might be able to help if these don’t work.
Sometimes, having itchy feet could indicate a significant medical condition. To ensure the safety of both you and your infant, it’s crucial to consult a doctor if you have any concerns about any of your symptoms.
Happy pregnancy, folks!