Pregnancy brings joy and expectations but it can also come with uncomfortable experiences, such as nausea, troubled breathing, or even dizziness.
While many pregnant women report similar encounters during pregnancy, there are few documented stories of dry hands and itching, which can create anxiety for new mothers-to-be.
This post may not cover the cause for each case of itchiness, but it has compiled some common reasons, treatments, and the risk associated with dry, itchy hands during pregnancy.
What are the causes of dry hands during pregnancy?
As the pregnancy develops from one stage to another, the skin undergoes many changes. While your breasts and belly grow bigger, the skin around your hands may turn red and dry, and itching may become more intense.
Efforts to ease the itchiness, such as skin-on-skin rubbing, can worsen the situation. Chafing from clothes and fabric, and chemicals can also cause dry, itchy hands during pregnancy. These causative factors can lead to irritated patches and rashes on the hands of pregnant mothers.
Dry hands during pregnancy is also linked to eczema, a condition mostly experienced during the first two trimesters. Signs of the disease include itching, inflammation, rashes, and burning sensations. Pregnant women experiencing eczema for the first time are said to suffer from an atopic eruption of pregnancy (AEP).
Whether it is eczema or AEP, it is essential to look out for patches of inflamed skin around the hands. The condition may not affect the baby’s health, but it is worth controlling or treating quickly.
Another sign of dry, itchy hands during pregnancy is the presence of thick patches of dry skin. While this condition is likely to improve as the pregnancy progresses, a report by the Expert Review of Clinical Immunology indicates that many pregnant women should continue to seek treatment. Mild psoriasis is easy to control, but moderate-to-severe cases can take longer to cure.
The main symptoms of prurigo of pregnancy are small, itchy bumps on hands, which appear like insect bites. The condition can arise from imbalances in immune function during pregnancy. Prurigo is not harmful to the baby but should be treated if the condition worsens.
Dry, itchy hands during the third trimester can be caused by intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP). The situation can also arise from obstetric cholestasis (OC). While ICP is uncommon, the disease affects 1 to 2 out of 1,000 pregnant women in the United States.
Itchy hands are the most common symptom of ICP but pregnant women with this condition should also look out for fatigue, nausea, dark urine, and mild depression.
Some of the factors contributing to this condition include impaired liver function arising from hormonal imbalance during pregnancy, or variations in the digestive process. Acids from the bile can also flow from the liver into your hand tissues, causing itching.
Genetic factors can also contribute to the prevalence of ICP. Pregnant women with itchy hands should, therefore, consult with their mothers, sisters, and close relatives about similar experiences during their pregnancy.
After delivery, the liver function reverts to normal, and symptoms of ICP should disappear. However, you should inform your doctor about increased dryness on your hands during pregnancy, as a failure to do so can cause serious side effects towards your baby.
ICP is associated with a high risk of premature birth, stillbirth and other complications; hence it should be treated appropriately.
Treatments for dry, itchy hands during pregnancy
Use an unscented moisturizer: This remedy is very useful to soothe the skin around your hands. Moisturizers with argan oil, olive oil, and shea are particularly recommended for dry, itchy hands.
Hand creams that provide a mix of moisturizing and skin relief complexes like shea butter, argan oil, spent grain wax, etc are quick and effective to relieve the itchiness on the irritated skin of hands. These components work by reducing inflammation and decreasing the effects of histamine release.
Put on natural wear: Use gloves and put on clothes made of natural fibres, such as cotton, as they ease the breathing of the skin on hands.
Wash with oatmeal: Treat dry hands during pregnancy by bathing them in water mixed with oats, milk powder, and baking soda. Add a well-grounded mix of the ingredients into your bath water and soak your dry, itchy hands for 20 minutes.
It is recommended that remedies, such as essential oils, be used with the doctor’s directive. Some oils may cause pregnancy complications, yet they would not improve the effects of the oatmeal bath substantially.
Lotions and salves: Sooth your dry, itchy hands by applying calamine lotion and creams, such as cocoa butter and shea butter. Use it on clean, dry hands in the morning and at night before sleeping.
Pregnant women with eczema should consult their doctor before using lotions to relieve itchiness. Some lotions can be used sparingly, but most are not recommended during pregnancy.
It is advisable to go for products that are based out of natural moisturising and hydrating ingredients.
Additionally, keep your hands healthy by using mild soaps and by avoiding allergens and triggers.
Change detergents and perfumes: Chemicals used to manufacture cleaning products can cause skin irritation. Therefore, you can make your soap or detergents with selected ingredients to minimize the risk of developing dry hands during pregnancy.
Stay hydrated: Pregnant women should increase their water intake to keep dry hands at bay. Drink coconut water for enhanced absorption by your body.
Turn on your fan or humidifier: Cool and moist air can help to relieve itchiness and dryness on hands.
Pregnant women can treat severe cases of dry, itchy hands by seeking their doctor’s advice. Symptoms, such as nausea and jaundice, can worsen a seemingly mild case of itching around your palms. It is, therefore, recommended that you get medical attention as such situations can be signs of ICP.
Before using natural remedies to treat dry hands during pregnancy, you should inform your doctor to avoid the risk of using harmful products.
Patients suffering from psoriasis and eczema should also seek medical treatment for their condition. A doctor will recommend safe remedies with appropriate prescriptions. If the cause of the itchiness is cholestasis, your doctor may prescribe drugs to alleviate the situation and control the flow of bile acid in the blood.
How risky is cholestasis as a cause for dry hands during pregnancy?
You should not always ignore dry, itchy skin during pregnancy. Cholestasis of pregnancy is associated with an impaired liver arising from many pregnancy hormones, which affect the smooth flow of bile.
This condition typically occurs during the third trimester, leading to intensive itching on the palms and other parts of the body. It can also cause yellow discolouration of the skin around your hands.
Cholestasis affects less than 1% of pregnant women and can subside a few days after delivery. However, it can be harmful if not monitored by a doctor, because it can aggravate complications during pregnancy, including stillbirth and premature birth.
Pregnant mothers experience mixed feelings and experiences during pregnancy.
Dry, itchy hands are uncomfortable and can be treated using home-made remedies or some natural and plant-based products available in the market.
However, before the situation worsens and threatens the health of your baby, seek medical attention. Itchiness could also be a sign of a more severe condition; hence, it should be checked on time.
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