34 answers

Itchy Feet During Pregnancy

Has anyone dealt with itchy feet during pregnancy? Ever since I took the HPT, my feet have been itching like crazy, especially at night. I have mentioned this to my ob at both my appointments, and he dismisses it. Recently, it has spread to my hands. The itching is so bad at night, that I have trouble sleeping. I called the ob office and the nurse told me to take Benadryl so I could sleep and to see a dermatologist. Well, I must be the only person that does not get sleepy from Benadryl. And as far as seeing a dermatologist, I am in the middle of switching insurance companies and will have to wait until next month. I have tried Gold Bond foot powder, Benadryl spray, Aveeno lotions, and soaking my feet in cold water. The cold water gives me a little relief, but it doesn't last.

I do not have a rash. It just itches. I've looked things up on the internet and I've seen that it can be related to my liver function. That scares me a little especially since my ob doesn't seem to be taking me serious.

I feel like I'm going crazy. Especially when I talk to other people b/c they've never heard of such a thing during pregnancy. This is really taking a toll on me. I've been in tears since last night b/c of the pain of itching.

I'm really hoping that someone can help me.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you for the advice. I decided not to go to a dermatologist. I just didn't want to pay my huge co-payment and then have them tell me it was my hormones. The itching has subsided quite a bit. My feet only itch once or twice a day and it isn't nearly as painful. I'm able to get some sleep at night. I did do some research about cholestasis, but I didn't have any of the other symptoms. I truly believe that it is related to my hormones.

Update #2: The itching remained during the rest of my pregnancy. At 39 weeks (I had a scheduled c-section due to a previous c-section), I had a beautiful, healthy girl. The itching is now gone. If it happens in my next pregnancy, I will be more assertive about getting my liver tested.

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I experienced something similar. My itching wasn't on my extremities (feet and hands) mine was on my abdomen. I was referred to a dermatologist. His prognosis was dry skin and the stretching of my skin due to the pregnancy. I switched to Dove soap. I stopped using body wash which can cause dry skin. I limited the amount of time I soaked in the tub which also can cause dry skin. It didn't eliminate the itching but it eased it enough where I could bear it. The good news is that it ended when I delivered my daughter.

Hi K.,

I would get a second ob's opinion if it does not go away. My sister had itching later on in pregnancy (nothing early on) and it was related to liver function, so she had to deliver a little earlier. I'm not saying this is the case with you, so I would not panic, but I would keep on top of it if it does not subside.

All the best,
G.

My hands itch really bad when my skin is extremely dry. Sometimes it doesn't look dry but it still is. I usually increase my water intake and put Vaseline on the itchy spots after getting out of the shower

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You HAVE to get your liver enzyme levels AND Bile acid levels tested and tested frequently. You most likelt have what I had, it's called Obstetric Cholestasis. Mnay OB's will dismiss the "itchyness" as pregnancy dry skin. This is NOT the same. It is so miserable that by the end of my pregnancy, I had itched almost all of the skin off of my legs and would go outside to run the skin raw on my hands and feet to stop the itching. I even placed my hands on hot burners for a second because the burning pain relieved the extreme itching. There is medication that can ease the itching. The biggest concern is there is a 10% chance of stillbirth after 36 weeks. You MUST have your baby monitored very closely after 32 weeks and you HAVE to deliver early to prevent stillbirth. My fourth daughter was born at 36 weeks and was in the NICU for 8 days, after they did a fetal lung maturity test to make sure she was "ready". Although that was tough, at least she wasn't going to die randomly inside of me. There is a website that offers TONS of support and information. I went to over 10 OB's and almost all of them dismissed my symptons, leaving me miserable and possibly endangering the lives of my children. It is the grace of God that allowed them to live, without proper care. Go to : www.itchymoms.com Get support today and demand support and acknowledgment from your ob, go to your next appointment with printed out information from the internet and go with a friend who will stand up for you and not let your doctor talk you out of your knowledge and need for better care.

1 mom found this helpful

Definitely check with your OB/GYN! I don't want to scare you, but it can be a liver issue.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi K.!
I just welcomed my first child on July 8th, 2009. I had the exact problem. My itching got so bad that even when I was sleeping I was scratching and my sheets would be stained with blood. My OB also kept dismissing it and telling me that it was normal when pregnant. Benadryl did nothing for me and neither did the steroid pack my OB prescribed. I was scratching for over a month and my OB did nothing, despite the scabs all over my legs, arms and stomach. Finally I decided I needed to see a Dermatologist. She prescribed Hydroxzine HCL 25 MG, Prednisone 20MG, Bactroban 2% cream, and triamcinolone 0.1% cream. After one day I stopped scratching and my legs, arms and stomach started healing after a few days. I was so upset that my doctor did nothing, but so happy I listened to my instincts and went to a dermatologist. The dermatologist actually also did some labs and the itching was associated with elevated hormone levels. Itching maybe associated with pregnancy, but it does not have to ruin such a precious time in your life. I highly recommend going and seeing a dermatologist.

I always get itchy feet during pregnancy. It is so irritating, but it does go away after the baby is born. I got some relief from soaking my feet in cold water or putting ice packs on them. I have no idea what causes it, but it does appear to be harmless. Benadryll does nothing for me in terms of sleepiness either. My OB w/ baby #2 gave me Ambien and with baby #3 my doc gave me Phenergan. Hang in there, it will go away eventually!

Hi K.~

My heart goes out to you. I have experienced both extreme pain and extreme itching, and, in my opinion, itching is worse.

The systems of the medical profession are only about 60 years old and they cannot understand the body as do practitioners of Chinese Traditional Medicine, a system that has been working effectively for over 5,000 years.

I would recommend one of these practitioners. One of the best in the area is Dr. Shao. Of course, one has to pay. Even when one has insurance, it will not pay for such therapies. However, the work is not as costly as mainstream medicine.

Blessings to you, my dear, and I pray you will find relief.

Since your ob doesn't seem concerned, try calamine lotion or baking soda. Both refresh and sooth.

You are not crazy! I experienced the same thing during my last pregnancy. My arms and legs itched like crazy. My midwife said it may be something to do with the hormones. Benadryl didn't do much for me either. what helped is a hot as you can stand it shower followed by a cool rinse and I would do gold bond after. And then just busy yourself with something to take your mind off it. I feel for you cause it is annoying but you will get through it! Congratulations by the way!

Hi K.,

I have the same thing happen to me. I'm not pregnant now, but it started when I was and happens occaisionally now. Try putting a pillow under your knees and elevate your feet a bit. I think it's caused by bad circulation, especially since you're pregnant. Perhaps the baby is sitting on a nerve or blood vessel when you lay down.

Good luck! I know how uncomfortable it can be!
G.

WOW! SO IT WAS'NT JUST IN MY HEAD!!!! I experienced the same thing while preg w/ my third child....my OB dismissed it off as "mass production of hormones" I was induced three weeks for this as I was literally scratching my skin off!! It was on the top of my feet as well as my hands.... :(THAT SUCKED!!! Guess what 10 yrs later Its happening again....no pregnancy this time...I had Liver Func. test done per my PMD....ALL negative....still dont have an answer wgt or what? Good luck....if ya find out the cause pls. share...

bflo,ny

I was *crazy* itchy during pregnancy, especially my feet and legs. I think it corresponded with swelling and the varicose veins I developed. Sorry to tell you that, but that's better than having a liver problem, no? The veins improved a lot within 24 hours of delivery. It was just a lot of pressure, and a lot of extra water weight to be carrying around! The doctor always told me to just stay off my feet (yeah right with other kids to care for!) as much as possible. Cool baths might help, I think with epsom salts (check on that). He also recommended compression hosiery, which I tried for one day and gave up on, even though they cost $70. Only a man who has never worn hose would recommend them! LOL Hideous and horrible in the Florida heat. And impossible to put on when you can barely see your own feet! But if it's really impossible, don't let your doctor blow it off. Keep looking for some kind of relief. And it'll all be worth it when your beautiful baby arrives :)

Oh my gosh,of course it means something. The doctor I studied with used to say"Doctors, if a patient has a sympton and you haven't found the cause- THEN you haven't found the cause!!!! Don't be a lazy doctor!"
His name was Dr. Major DeJarnette, and he was brilliant and amazing.
I just say all of that to assure you the only thing is you don't have the underlying cause yet.
Or maybe you do- itching often has to do with the liver- the liver being this wonderful organ we has to clean stuff out of the body, so it bears the strain of all we do.
There are suggestions from different supplement companies to handle this- and to do it right I'd suggest you contact someone to do a nutritional work up. One way to find someone is to contact Standard Process- they are probably the best supplement company on the planet- and ask who they have in your area to do that for you. You can also check with International Chiropractic Pediatric Assoc, and ask them for a referral.

Meanwhile eat no sugar, nothing made of white flour, no food dyes, or additives, lots of water(how much? take your weight in pounds divide it in half- make that number ounces and that is the number of ozs you need to drink per day of good water), and check out WestonPrice Foundation for more assistance.
Go for it! doc

I had especially itchy hands and feet during later half of pregnancy. It was related to swelling. My midwives told me it is a common symptom of edema (which is something OBs should be concerned about). My midwives had my drink Alfalfa tea and Calm (magnesium citrate) mixed in juice to help bring swelling down. I did have to drink a lot of tea. Benadryl would work for me if I took two doses but the pharmacist didn't think benadryl while pregnant was a good idea.

I had the exact same thing!!! It started in my feet, spread to my hands, then later to my thighs, outer arms, and lower stomach...basically my entire body it was AWEFUL!!

My dr. did take me seriously and immediately sent me for blood work you are correct about it having something to do with your liver function your body may be producing to many salts (or leaving to many salts) and they get stored under your skin. There are a few effects to this that can be harmful to you and the baby, but don't be alarmed.
I was sent twice for the blood work, after the first test came back negative and the symptons never went away. It came back negative both times and showed nothing was wrong with my liver. I just changed lotions and body soap and it got a little bit better
After I had my daughter it got much worse and a rash develped on my lower abs (I did not have a c-section so this had nothing to do with it) and my thighs, hands, and arms. I went to my ob and they couldn't figure it out, I went to my derm. and he couldn't figure it out. Basically I kept changing lotions until it went away.
Sorry that I haven't really been much help because the itching didn't go away until my daughter was about 3 weeks old. But the GOOD thing is she is perfectly fine and so am I. I would really get on your doctor about getting those tests done. I know it will make you feel much better!

Hey K.,

I had extremely itchy hands and feet for the first trimester of my pregnancy. Nothing helped. The symptoms went away after the first trimester and my baby and me were both healthy the whole pregnancy and I know have a healthy 3 and 1/2 year old. Hope this helps put your mind at ease a little.

~J.

My hands itch really bad when my skin is extremely dry. Sometimes it doesn't look dry but it still is. I usually increase my water intake and put Vaseline on the itchy spots after getting out of the shower

I had simular symptoms when I was Preg. Turned out to be Cholestasis (sp?) but my OBGYN ignored the symptoms and finally did some internet research, went to a liver Dr. and he diagnosed me. Glad I was persistent - it can be dangerous. They put me on meds - Urisol (sp?) and I had to deliver a couple of weeks earlier because that is when the danger time comes for the baby. Anyway - be persistent - get a second opinion - their is a simple blood test that can tell you if that is your condition. This was 6 years ago for me and the condition was rare, but I hear of it mroe often than ever. Also, to relieve the itching, try keeping your itcy legs, hands etc... cold. I used cold packs. No hot showers or baths - and after a cool shower, rinse off in cold water. That seemed to help me. Good Luck!

I am not sure if it is the same thing but after my first pregnancy I started getting an itchy rash, it started with my feet and then to my hands and now I sometimes get it on the back of my legs, torso, etc. It is almost like hives but happens for no apparent reason (not an allergic reaction). This has been happening for 4 years now. Over the past 2 years I have realized that it happens right before my menstrual cycle.

I have called my ob about it but they always want me to make and appointment but it comes and goes so I have never had it looked into. Sometimes it will be like that for 30 minutes or so and go away only to come back a few hours later. It's very frustrating and annoying.

Hi - boy oh boy can I relate - I had terrible itching - feet legs and my belly too ... tried everything, was tested just to make sure it wasnt the kidney/liver problem ( cant remember nowadays) but the only thing helped was topical triamcinolone and finally they put me on a cycle of prednisone.

Telll your doctor that you need medication !! dont live in the torture. I was going mad LOL.

The triamcinolone comes in a cream although I used my dogs spray ( called Genesis) ( it is safe - low dose) and it was the only thing that stopped the itching long enough for me to get rest.
After being on the pred for a few days it got better.... but I wouldnt wish it on anyone !

Good luck !

S.

I felt compeled to rspond to you. I experienced the same thing during pregnancy. I read that it is associated with high hormone levels and anxiety.
I used coritsone cream and other anti-itch creams. The OB can probobly prescribe you something like a steroidal cream that should help with the itching.
Focusing on other things besides the itching, such as deep breathing or progressive muscular relaxation (where you relax each part of your body) helps a lot to. I find when I focus too much on the itch I went crazy. Also, keeping the house very cool helps as well.
Good luck!! It's worth it..

I experienced something similar. My itching wasn't on my extremities (feet and hands) mine was on my abdomen. I was referred to a dermatologist. His prognosis was dry skin and the stretching of my skin due to the pregnancy. I switched to Dove soap. I stopped using body wash which can cause dry skin. I limited the amount of time I soaked in the tub which also can cause dry skin. It didn't eliminate the itching but it eased it enough where I could bear it. The good news is that it ended when I delivered my daughter.

I realize this was posted in 2009 but I compelled to post for anyone that goes through this in the future.

I had the same thing and it started in my 6th week. My feet were fine all day but would wake me with intense itching at night. I could have itched the skin off. I was exhausted. There was no rash, it was not athlete's foot though I tried just about every fungus treatments. I had asked the nurse about and she looked at me like I had two heads. I found that soaking in cold water worked and started to bring ice packs to bed with me so that I could sleep.

I also had been suffering with bad pregnancy acne. I read one day that exercise helps your body deal with all the hormones. I started walking at least a few times a week and my feet stopped itching. I knew it was hormone related.
I spoke to the midwife at my next appointment and discussed my frustration with the nurse's response when I had asked about the itching. Not every woman has a text book pregnancy and not every pregnancy is the same. I have since talked with a number of women that had itching and rashes pop up. My midwife suggested that it may have been a restless leg syndrome symptom. Exercise helps that too.
I'm so grateful not to have this distraction through the rest of my pregnancy so I can sleep well. I'm now just about 13 weeks and have not had the itching for 3 weeks.

My daughter experienced this while pregnant and after the baby was born - once she started back on birth control pills.

She was hospitalized at 7 months of pregnancy for 4 days because of the symptoms you are describing; and after several tests she was diagnosed with Intrahepatic Cholestasis. They put her on a prescription that helped a great deal; and my grand daugther was delivered 2 weeks early.

Check into this; as it will only get worse if you have this condition - my daughter would scratch her hands and feet with a steak knife she was so miserable.

She and the baby are great now - but the Dr. mentioned this may occur again in her next pregnancy.

Hope this helps and good luck....

For starters drink water, lots of water and more water. My sister in law would fill a gallon jug with water and put it in the refrigerator and make sure it was gone by the end of the day every day. Also she drank milk. No coffee, soda, juices, etc...
Then she said to tell you to soak your feet in Epsom Salts but just for about five minutes as water can dry your skin out. Then use lotion three to four times a day. Something like aloe, mint, or any herbal lotions. But she said if you drink the water the itching will subside. But it won't work if you are drinking other things.

Not to in any way dismiss or diminish your discomfort, pain, annoyance and misery... but to maybe put your mind at least a bit...

Every woman has different reactions to pregnancy. Some are very common, so are well-known, but everyone has their little quirks. It doesn't necessarily mean that you have liver issues... although if you feel better following that up with your doctor, by all means do so. Just know that we all have different adjustments that our bodies make.

Just like some are more nauseous than others; some vomit multiple times daily, some never vomit but are immobilized by nausea for almost the entire 10 months.

My own experience was that (in addition to the nausea issues) I also developed morning carpal tunnel, and my hands would be painful in the mornings until the blood got flowing.. I could BARELY, with great delicacy and care, hold my toothbrush... I could not brush my hair until I had taken my shower and let the warm water massage them while gently trying to shampoo, and using a pen or pencil at work was next to impossible until about 10 a.m. I also had a numb spot on the edge of my left ear... (don't know why.. no one could explain it for sure)... but it went away. Came back with pregnancy #2... went away again... just one of those little quirky things. It was annoying, not painful, but weird. So, again... it may just be one of those things that you have to deal with somehow on a temporary basis. Maybe if you are retaining water in your extremities it is causing your skin to itch -- I know later in pregnancy when your belly skin stretches it will get very itchy. You could try lotions and soaking in Oatmeal baths in addition to any other ideas the wonderful ladies on this site may think of.

I hope it goes away soon... but until then.. remember it will all be worth it soon...
Hang in there.

Hi K.,

I would get a second ob's opinion if it does not go away. My sister had itching later on in pregnancy (nothing early on) and it was related to liver function, so she had to deliver a little earlier. I'm not saying this is the case with you, so I would not panic, but I would keep on top of it if it does not subside.

All the best,
G.

Hi K.. Yes, there is a serious condition called cholestasis that causes the extreme itching BUT it is very rare. Also it doesn't usually show up till later in the pregnancy.
That's not to discount your worries but hopefully put you at ease a bit. Also, you probably would have had it in your last pregnancy too if it was cholestasis.
I had cholestasis in both my pregnancies. The first time I suffered with the itching until the day I delivered! My bp had skyrocketed and they induced me and ran the tests that confirmed the cholestasis.
This last time I had switched OB's so when I started itching again I knew right away what it was but had to insist on the testing! A lof OB's are not familiar with it so you may need to be pushy or get a second opinion.
Hopefully it is related to swelling or just your body's way of reacting to the pregnancy. Itching really is common in pregnancy but keep checking your symptoms especially as you get further along and don't be afraid to insist on more testing!
Good luck!

I had a friend that was extremely itchy throughout her entire pregnancy and I believe she told me it was a condition related to her liver-I can't remember the specific name. I would talk to another OB or switch OB's if yours isn't talking you seriously. Being pregnant is stressful enough on your body, plus anything going on with you can potentially effect the baby. Therefore, I think it's worth talking to someone else who will take you seriously.

Hi K.,

Let me tell you, you are not alone. I am going threw the same thing as we speak. The itching is all over my body also with no rashes. I called my ob gyn and told her I wanted blood work done, so I go in tomorrow. I am 38 weeks pregnant and just took benadryl to try to get relief. If I were you I would demand blood work to check the liver. You can never be too careful. I know some itching is normal during pregnacy but not this extreme. Anyway, good luck. Let me know what happens.

do your hands get red and blotchy too? I had that starting 6 weeks postpartum with my first. The only thing that helped was Zyrtec. Check with your dr first, but it is safe to take during pregnancy and nursing. I took it through my whole 2nd pregnancy. It was accompanied by all-over eczema and I had it for more than 2 years. I hope you get relief soon!

I am pregnant with twins and I had the same thing I tried everything have your doctor test you for something called ICP Its Cholestatsis of Pregnancy or go to itchymoms.com its dangerous and can cause stillbirth and premature labor I did and I had it and now I go to the hospital twice a week and they are taking them at 35 weeks. Its rare like 1 out of 1000 and goes away afterwards but it can happen Im on 2 medications for it to if your doctor dismisses that get a new doctor mine didn't argue when I told him. Good luck!

Itchy skin can also be a sign of diabetes because it can cause SUPER dry skin! The back of my hands and the sides of my feet were super itchy. That was one of the signs I exhibited when I first found out I had diabetes.

I agree with the other posters in that if your gut is telling you otherwise, find someone who WILL listen to you and get a referral to a specialist who WILL do the screening for other possibilities. If they find something else, switch OBs. If he can't listen to you that you have a valid concern, do you really want him as part of your birth plan and delivery of your child?

Just my two cents. Congrats on the pregnancy & new addition to your family. I hope this gets resolved for you quickly.

It is possible that you developed allergies during pregnancy. With my second pregnancy, I did develop allergies. And, no they did not go away. They intensified after my 3rd pregnancy.

I think you should get a new doctor. Until then, I would hold off on medicines, even Benadryl. I would take the advice of the one whose sister advised to drink tons of water and soak in epsom salt. I wanted to get Benadryl for my 1 year old a while ago, and 2 pharmacists said that it has been found to be hard and a little one's liver. I don't know if it affects baby in utero. I would just watch out until you know more. I don't know where you live, but if it's near Jax, Dr. Kimberly VanScriver is great and I'm pretty sure she's not one of these doctors that is just too happy to over medicate. Good luck. You should not have to suffer. I hope you find a solution.

Sounds like some kind of neuropathy. Diabetics get it but it can be for lots of other reasons. Do not take any meds for it. Your baby will become toxic and have neurodevelopmental issues.. Maybe try spreading vaseline on them at night and covering with socks. www.developmentalbaby.vpweb.com

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