Here’s why your stomach and feet itch during pregnancy

While not the most talked-about pregnancy woe (swollen feet and back pain, anyone?) itching, also known as pruritus, is a very common complaint. Some women experience itching all over, while others feel it specifically on certain body parts such as their hands, feet, belly, or chest

Image Source: Google Image for representational purposes only
Image Source: Google
Image for representational purposes only

Most itching is just downright annoying, but severe itching can lead to loss of sleep or even be a sign of a very serious medical problem. We’ll talk about what could be causing your itchy feet, some treatments you can try, and when to call your doctor.

Causes and symptoms of itchy feet when you’re pregnant

Hormonal skin changes

Your hormones are going crazy (as you’ve probably already noticed), and all that extra action from your endocrine system can cause your skin to get irritated.

Plus, your immune system works differently while you’re pregnant — it temporarily increases or suppresses certain functions so that your baby can grow in the best way possible.

The combination of hormones and immune system changes can lead to some pregnancy-specific skin conditions that may cause itchy feet.

You may notice:

  • small, itchy bumps that resemble bug bites (prurigo)
  • rash-like, itchy hives (PUPP)
  • red, scaly, itchy patches (eczema or AEP)

The good news is that these skin conditions will not harm your baby and should go away after you deliver.

Nerve sensitivity

Again thanks to our good friends, the hormones, some pregnant women find that their nerves just seem more sensitive during pregnancy.

So seemingly ‘normal’ things like sweating, being warm, wearing tight clothing, chafing, wearing the wrong shoes, or just lying in your bed can make your feet itchy.

Stretching

Not the kind of stretching you do in your prenatal yoga class — we’re talking about stretching of the skin. Your body goes through some amazing changes to house that rapidly growing baby, and stretching the skin, on your abdomen, thighs, buttocks, and breasts, is one of them.

Depending on your genes, hormones, and rate of weight gain you may be more or less prone to developing stretch marks (striae gravidarum). Stretch marks can be a source of itching.

While your feet are unlikely to develop stretch marks, they do bear extra weight during pregnancy and the ligaments undergo some stretching of their own that can lead to an itching sensation.

Psoriasis

If you experienced psoriasis prior to pregnancy, you might get a welcome break from symptoms while you are pregnant. But, some women continue to experience painful, itchy plaques even during pregnancy, which can occur on your feet.

While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Dr Apratim Goel, a dermatologist and laser surgeon at Cutis Skin Studio informed, “Pregnant women experience itching around their stomach and legs as they get dry easily, also the legs do not get enough of circulation. Hormonal changes can lead to itching too.”

Dr Goel added, “We get a lot of complaints from patients regarding this. We give them oral medication for this. Pregnant women should not sit on the floor. Legs also itch when they get swollen. Immerse them in warm water with salt for 20 minutes; it can help reduce the swelling and itching.”

While Dr Vilas Bhole, a gynaecologist from Jalgaon, said, “Hands, legs and the stomach can itch during pregnancy. High blood pressure can increase itching sensations. Swollen legs can lead to itching too. Stretch marks caused due to pregnancy can cause itching too.”