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Ask Dr. Sears: Answers to Common Pregnancy Questions

Itching

Q. Why am I itching all over?

A. Skin that's stretching over the abdomen, hips, thighs, and breasts may itch. Or you may have developed a prickly heat rash in some of those new folds and creases that you've acquired during pregnancy.

During pregnancy, drink lots of water to hydrate your skin and apply moisturizer or another emollient to seal in moisture when your body is still slightly damp after a bath or shower. Avoid long, hot showers and harsh soaps (try using an oatmeal-based soap), as these can rob your skin of the natural oils that keep it smooth.

If prickly heat is the problem, use lotion in the area to smooth skin and minimize irritation from bras, underwear, and other clothing. Avoid synthetic clothing that keeps your skin from breathing, and you may want to skip the pantyhose altogether. Treat your skin to a massage, a soothing touch we like to call "vitamin T." Late in pregnancy, you may notice small red bumps known as pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPP) on your abdomen, thighs, or arms. These are harmless and should disappear after delivery.

Pregnancy causes so many changes in your body that it can be unnerving. These changes are normal and are probably not any cause for concern. Don't be afraid to contact your doctor or midwife with any questions, and try to remember what a special time this is.

Contributing editor William Sears, M.D., and his wife, Martha Sears, R.N., are authors of The Pregnancy Book.

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