Itching is a common problem associated with pregnancy. In early stages it can be easily attributed to the fact that uterus gets stretched and causes the skin to expand and develop
However, severe and intense itching during third trimester of pregnancy is a rare condition where the itch is widespread all over the body & cause red rashes and a burning sensation.
This is a rarely found medical condition called Cholestasis of Pregnancy, a liver disease that appears during the third trimester of pregnancy. One in every 1000 women may suffer from this disease.
Causes of Cholestasis: Cholestasis is a liver disorder wherein the bile juice secreted by liver does not flow normally in the ducts, and gets accumulated in skin causing severe itching and redness all over. The reason for this abnormal bile functioning is the increased level of hormones at the peak of pregnancy.
Tests and Diagnosis: The moment this condition is diagnosed, the doctor would suggest a series of tests for liver functioning and enzymes secretion and sometimes a test for jaundice. Also required is a close monitoring of fetal heart beat and movements. A medical history of mother is also listed down, as the condition is often hereditary and runs in the family.
Effect on the baby: Cholestasis is a serious disorder that may affect the baby’s growth and well being when in the womb.It may cause fetal distress, pre-term birth and malfunctioning of baby’s liver. At times it becomes necessary to induce the mother and bring out baby prematurely to avoid any risk of still birth.
Treatments: Regular pregnancy itching can be cured by wearing loose clothes, dabbing a good moisturizing lotion and any calamine lotion for a cooling and soothing effect. However, itching caused by cholestosis can’t be treated easily. The person has to be given medications for maintaining proper liver functioning and close monitoring has to be done through regular blood tests and fetal activity monitoring.
Vitamin K supplements are prescribed for the mother and in some cases, a close watch has to be kept on baby’s growth and the moment fetal lungs maturity is confirmed, the baby is delivered safely without any further delays.
The itching gradually goes after the delivery, but there are more than 70% chances of this condition to repeat itself in the subsequent pregnancies.