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Itchy Skin

Why is your skin so itchy?

Itchy Skin209

April 23, 2019

One very common experience after pregnancy is dry, itchy skin (also called pruritus). Sometimes, it’s a symptom of an underlying medical issue. But usually, it’s just super annoying, and unfortunately a lot of the advice is just “drink more water and use moisturizer.”

How do you know if it’s normal or not?

First of all, it’s important to distinguish between itchy skin during and itchy skin after pregnancy. There’s a fairly rare liver condition that occurs during pregnancy called cholestasis of pregnancy, and the primary symptom is itchy skin. So if you’re pregnant and itchy, your healthcare provider can help determine if it’s normal and evaluate your liver function if necessary. If it's accompanied by a red, raised skin, it might be a harmless, but annoying, condition called pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP). In rare cases, PUPPP develops postpartum. Again, your OB/GYN or midwife can help you treat it.

Related: Postpartum PUPPP: When a pregnancy rash develops postpartum

If you’re itchy and you’ve already had your baby, it’s probably not cholestasis of pregnancy. Another condition that may include dry, itchy skin is postpartum thyroiditis. The bad news is that some of the other related symptoms are pretty common for those who just gave birth (difficulty sleeping, weight changes, irritability, sadness), so it can be hard to pinpoint. The good news is that it’s fairly easy to test for, just a blood test to check your thyroid hormone levels. So if you do have some other symptoms besides itchy skin, it doesn’t hurt to rule it out.

Related: What is Postpartum Thyroiditis?

If you’ve ruled out the other conditions, then welcome to water-and-moisturizer land. Here, you don’t get to blame it on an actual medical condition. It’s just another fun surprise about the postpartum phase.

What actually causes the dry, itchy skin after delivery?

The official answer is “medical professionals aren’t sure of the exact cause”. YAY. But, the itchiness is likely due to the dryness. And the dryness is likely caused by hormones (yes, you can still blame everything on hormones).

What can you do about it?

Here are the top 5 recommendations from dermatologists:

  1. Keep your showers short and not super hot to prevent drying your skin out more.
  2. While your skin is still damp from the shower, apply moisturizer (Eucerin is a fave).
  3. Use a humidifier.
  4. Drink water (extra if you’re breastfeeding).
  5. Switch to gentle, fragrance-free, or hypoallergenic soap and laundry detergent.

What worked best for you? Leave a comment and share your experience with other itchy mamas.

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