Tips for Dealing With an Itchy Belly During Pregnancy

Pregnant woman sitting in a grassy area, looking at her belly

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The cause of an itchy belly in pregnancy is usually just the skin expanding. You have to expand to accommodate the developing fetus, so there is not a way to get out of that. This doesn't mean that everyone will experience itching, or to a level that is even noticeable. 


Here are tips for preventing and treating an itchy belly during pregnancy:

Keep Your Belly Moisturized

Having dry skin can make the itching worse and lead to scratching. Keeping yourself and your belly well hydrated will usually help tone down the itching, but not necessarily alleviate it. This is where the creams and oils come in handy.

A nice moisturizing lotion will go a long way with the itchiness. There isn't a specific formula that has some magic cure, so don't break the bank buying the most expensive lotion available. Just buy one you like. There are also special baths, like oatmeal baths designed to be safe and yet effective in taking care of itching.

Staying well-hydrated is another way to improve the health of your skin. Some of it is seasonal, some of it is environmental. Can you alter the humidity in your home? That might help.

Avoid Things That Are Drying

We also do a lot of things that dry our skin out without even thinking about it. One of the main culprits is hot water. While a bath is perfectly acceptable, how you take it may be drying out your skin.

You might consider being sure that you don't use too hot of water on your stomach. This can further dry out the skin, particularly troublesome for some mothers in the winter months. In fact, when you get out of a bath, gently towel off, not removing all of the water. This is the ideal time to add a moisturizer to your skincare plan. This can help seal in the water still on your skin.

When to See a Doctor

Be sure to talk to your midwife or doctor before using any medicated creams or taking oral medications to alleviate itching. There are some skin issues that can crop up in pregnancy that go beyond simple dry skin.

If your itching is severe and accompanied by a rash, talk to your practitioner.

You may have PUPPP, a condition marked by very uncomfortable itching and hives. Your doctor can help you determine the best form of treatment for itching that goes beyond dry skin.​

There is also a dangerous liver condition called intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP). Severe itching without a rash, most commonly on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, is the main symptom (although itching can also spread to the torso). Since ICP may increase the risk of preterm birth and other problems, make sure to tell your doctor if you experience itching without a rash.

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bechtel MA. Pruritus in pregnancy and its management. Dermatol Clin. 2018;36(3):259-265. doi:10.1016/j.det.2018.02.012

  2. American Academy of Dermatology. Dermatologists’ Top Tips for Relieving Dry Skin.

  3. Pritzier EC, Mikkelsen CS. Polymorphic Eruption of Pregnancy Developing Postpartum: 2 Case ReportsDermatol Reports. 2012;4(1):e7. doi: 10.4081/dr.2012.e7.

  4. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Skin conditions during pregnancy. Updated October 2018.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.