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How can I soothe my itchy belly?
Q: I’m 28 weeks pregnant and my skin is itching, especially around my belly. What can I use for this during pregnancy?
A: Itchy skin is rather common during pregnancy, especially as your belly expands and your skin stretches. Try to avoid wearing clothes that are tight around your waist, or clothes that cause overheating, which may make you feel worse. Some women are extra sensitive to clothes and benefit from washing their garments in a very mild, hypoallergenic detergent such as Dreft or Ivory Snow flakes. Many women find moisturizers to be soothing—a non-scented one may cause less sensitivity.

If these suggestions don’t help, you can try using Caladryl lotion or cream or Benadryl cream. Another way to obtain relief is to soak in an oatmeal bath using premixed oatmeal bath preparations purchased in pharmacies.

Rarely, itching can signal a liver problem called intrahepatic cholestasis. This condition is more common in the third trimester of pregnancy, and occurs when bile salts accumulate under your skin, causing a generalized itchiness. Your health provider can check for this condition with a blood test. If cholestasis of pregnancy is diagnosed, your baby may need extra monitoring and may need to be delivered before your due date.

Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist