Itchy Feet During Pregnancy – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Itchy Feet During Pregnancy - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Some women experience itching all over their bodies during pregnancy, while others experience itching explicitly on certain body parts, such as their feet, hands, belly, or chest. While most itching is just plain annoying, severe itching can cause sleep loss or even signal a critical medical problem. Read on to know about itchy feet, their causes, symptoms, and the treatment a pregnant woman can opt for.

Why Do Women Have Itchy Feet During Pregnancy?

Many grumbles and grievances stem during pregnancy, ranging from vomiting and nausea to something unusual, such as itchy feet and legs. Yes, it is a fact that some pregnant ladies may experience itching, particularly on their feet. Though it is not a serious concern, one must agree that continuous itching is quite annoying. There are various reasons why pregnancy could lead to itchy feet, ranging from increased sweat production hormonal changes to skin issues, for example, psoriasis. This is not a serious problem, but itching can be very uncomfortable, and the last thing you need to feel during pregnancy is uncomfortable.

In some cases, itchy feet during pregnancy can also be due to a condition known as cholestasis or acholia of pregnancy. In cholestasis or acholia, the pregnancy hormones induce liver dysfunction, resulting in a build-up of bile in the bloodstream and liver. As a result, this build-up leads to itching in specific parts, such as the hands or feet. If pregnant ladies experience acholia or cholestasis, this condition should ideally be treated medically. If not treated medically, the condition may even affect the unborn baby.

What Causes Itchy Feet When Pregnant?

Pregnant ladies may experience foot itching due to several reasons. Intense foot itching could be related to other symptoms that depend on the root cause. Also, some pregnant ladies may experience isolated itching of feet, while few may experience itching all over the body, including the belly and hands. While a few others may experience severe feet itching with slight itching in other parts of their body.

Following are a few of the common causes of itchy feet during pregnancy:

1. Hormonal and Immune System Changes 

Changes in the hormones and immune system during pregnancy can lead to skin irritations. Specific immune system functions could suppress or increase the baby’s development and growth, and such immunity changes can make some women susceptible to certain skin conditions during pregnancy.

2. Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy 

Intrahepatic cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP), also known as Obstetric cholestasis (OC), happens due to irregular bile movement from the liver to the gut during pregnancy. The bile salts below the skin cause severe itching without rashes in the feet and hands and slight itching in other areas. Some of the other symptoms are jaundice which is the yellowing of the whites of the skin and eyes, and stomach pain in the right side. The diagnosis can be confirmed by getting a blood test done. 

3. Peripheral Neuropathy 

Peripheral neuropathy damages the nerves outside the central nervous system (spinal cord and brain), which results in numbness, tingling, pain, and itching in the feet and hands. Lower extremity (feet) neuropathy is quite common during pregnancy due to nerve compression from the developing uterus. However, it must be noted that this kind of damage reverses after the baby is born. 

4. Psoriasis 

Psoriasis can lead to painful plaques on the feet and itching in the feet and other bodies during pregnancy. Ladies who have psoriasis before their pregnancy may have remission or a flare-up once they get pregnant. However, some women may also find that their symptoms improve during pregnancy.

5. Dry skin 

Dry skin is a common cause for itchy feet, especially in climatic conditions that are extremely dry. Swimming in chlorinated water and frequent washing of feet can also lead to dry skin. Dry skin can also be caused by dermatitis or eczema, resulting from environmental and genetic factors. Some pregnant ladies may experience itchy feet due to dyshidrotic eczema – a type of eczema that appears on the feet’s sides and soles.

6. Allergic Reactions 

Allergic reactions can lead to itchy feet in some pregnant women once exposed to certain triggers, and such triggers can vary in each scenario.

Signs and Symptoms of Itchy Feet During Pregnancy 

Severe itching is the key symptom of cholestasis of pregnancy without any rash. The itching frequently gets worse at night and may cause a lack of sleep. The itching mostly begins during the third trimester of pregnancy but may also begin earlier, and it may worsen as the due date comes near. After the delivery, however, the itching usually disappears within a few days. So, be patient, and you need not google the keywords itchy swollen feet pregnancy.

Changes to one’s skin may also come along with the itchy sensation. Some signs and symptoms of itchy feet during pregnancy are:

  • Cracked, open areas
  • Dry, scale-like plaques
  • Blisters
  • Rash
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Redness
  • White spots
  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite

Can Itching of Feet in Pregnancy Be Serious?

The complication of itchy feet during pregnancy is usually not a very serious condition. However, suppose itching happens in the feet and hands during the third trimester of pregnancy and is accompanied by uncommon symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, loss of appetite, and fatigue. In that case, this may be more than just a skin issue. One very common problem of itchy feet during pregnancy could be cholestasis—a disorder that weakens digestive fluid from the liver. This is usually accompanied by the lightening of the color of the stool and the darkening of urine color. Extra bile in the blood could harm your baby and increase the risk of premature birth or inhaling their stool (meconium) during delivery, leading to breathing problems.

Also, cholestasis may lead to poor absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K (fat-soluble vitamins), which can resolve once the child is born. However, cholestasis can also lead to dangerous complications, with a high risk of repetition in a woman’s future pregnancies.

How Is Itchy Feet Treated in Pregnancy? 

How Is Itchy Feet Treated in Pregnancy?

For common causes of itchy feet during pregnancy, various treatments can be tried to relieve the continuous itching. 

1. Cold packs

Cool washcloths, cold footbaths, or ice packs draped in towels also should be applied to a woman’s feet to soothe the itchy skin. Do not apply the ice for more than 10 to 15 minutes. 

2. New socks

Socks that are loose-fitting and made of natural, breathable fibers (like wool or even cotton) can keep feet from becoming itchy and sweaty.

3. Massage 

A foot massage can also do wonders to the itching of feet as it helps distract the nerves and reduce the itching. However, one needs to gently massage the feet and avoid the acupressure points on the feet and around the ankles since certain spots can lead to uterine contractions. 

4. Moisturizers 

Simple, odorless moisturizers, such as shea butter, cocoa butter, or colloidal oatmeal can help calm itchy feet. However, one should check with the doctor before using topical medications, such as a lotion with diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or calamine lotion, as these may be dangerous during pregnancy.

5. Medications 

Suppose itchy feet are caused by psoriasis or eczema. In that case, it is recommended to check with the doctor before using any medications as they may not be safe to be used during pregnancy, and your doctor can help one find safer substitutes. One favored treatment for psoriasis during pregnancy is ultraviolet B phototherapy.

Home Remedies for Itchy Feet During Pregnancy 

There are various home remedies for ways to relieve itchy feet during pregnancy. A few of them are:

  • Use a Cold Compress: Take an ice pack and place it on your feet for a few minutes.
  • Use Juniper Berry Lotion: Blend some sweet almond oil, olive oil, or any other oil, a little beeswax, a few juniper berries, and some ground cloves. Apply this mixture on your feet for some relief from itching of feet.
  • Use a Paste Made Out of Gram Flour: Make a mixture of gram flour, oil, and water to make a smooth paste. Apply this paste on the affected area for 15 minutes and then wash off. 
  • Use Calamine Lotion: Apply some calamine lotion to the affected area and leave it overnight. This should help with the itching.
  • Use Coconut Oil: Take some extra virgin coconut oil and massage the affected area with this oil. Coconut oil can seep through the skin and reach the dry skin cells.
  • Use Aloe Vera: Collect some aloe vera gel from aloe vera leaves and apply this gel to the affected area. The aloe vera plant is well known to offer health benefits and help with various skin conditions.

Tips to Keep Feet Healthy During Pregnancy 

The extra weight of carrying a baby can lead to various foot-related conditions in pregnant ladies. One of the common problems in pregnant women is itchy, swollen, and painful feet resulting from excess fluids. Following are a few tips to keep feet healthy during pregnancy:

  • Reduce the time spent walking barefooted.
  • Orthotics can offer extra support for the feet and enable the distribution of weight uniformly.
  • Wear shoes with good support and offer good blood circulation to the feet.
  • Keep feet elevated if you experience swelling and keep massaging the feet.
  • Do some light and frequent exercise, such as walking, to enable blood circulation in the feet.

How to Know If You Got Cholestasis of Pregnancy? 

Severe itching is the prime symptom of cholestasis of pregnancy, and any rashes do not accompany this itching. Pregnant women usually feel itchy on the soles of their feet or the palms of their hands. However, some women feel itchy everywhere, and the itching typically worsens at night. A doctor is the best person to diagnose cholestasis of pregnancy with a blood test and a physical examination. These tests also let the doctor know how the liver is functioning. 

When to See a Doctor? 

  • Itchy feet during pregnancy at night can be treated at home with a few changes in your lifestyle changes, the application of topical moisturizers, and creams. 
  • However, one must visit a  doctor if the itching worsens or does not improve with any treatments. 
  • One may also want to meet a doctor if one has peripheral artery disease or diabetic neuropathy symptoms.

Pregnancy is a wonderful and also bumpy ride. With all the anticipation and excitement, there may be some side effects along the way. However, most of these side effects can be easily treated at home, and one need not get stressed with the whole experience.

Also Read:

Stomach Itching in Pregnancy
Vaginal Itching while Pregnant
Irritable Uterus during Pregnancy

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