What is it?
During pregnancy, you may experience some changes to your skin. Sometimes, you can experience a rash or itchy skin. The types of rash and itch that occur in pregnancy include:
- Polymorphic eruption of pregnancy – a fairly common itchy rash that usually develops in late pregnancy (third trimester), within stretch marks on the abdomen; it often happens in a first pregnancy
- Prurigo of pregnancy – an intensely itchy rash that generally develops in the second or third trimester; an uncommon condition that mainly affects the abdomen and the limbs
- Pemphigoid gestationis – a rare condition that begins with itching, followed by a hive-like rash; it is an autoimmune condition, meaning that your immune system reacts against your own skin
Usually, the rash or itch are not serious and can be managed with simple measures such as creams or lotions, or mild topical steroids.
What will my GP do now?
Your GP will diagnose the type of rash or itch you have. To do this, they may:
- Do a physical examination of your skin
- Do a blood test to check things such as your liver for a condition called cholestasis of pregnancy
- Refer you to a dermatologist
Your treatment will depend on the type of rash that you have, and may include using:
- A cream or ointment (emollients) to help with dry skin
- Short term topical steroids
- Oral steroids
Your GP may also give you general advice about how to take care of your skin (see ‘What can I do?).
What will my GP do in the future?
Your GP may want to see you again to check how your itch and rash are going. Some types of rash go away after delivery. However, some rashes come back again or could cause other health problems. Monitor your symptoms, and always see your GP if you are worried about your skin.
What can I do?
- Avoid scratching the itchy area
- Keep your nails short to prevent breaking the skin if you do scratch
- Have a cool bath or shower
- Be careful, however, as excessive showering or bathing may make it worse
- Gently pat yourself dry with a clean towel after bathing
- Do not rub or use the towel to scratch yourself
- Avoid using any soaps, shower gels or foam bath products, as they can dry the skin and make itching worse
- Wear loose cotton clothing, as this can help prevent you overheating which makes the itch worse