Itchy Feet During Pregnancy- Causes , Symptoms and Treatment

Shikha Batra

Created by Shikha Batra
Updated on Aug 06, 2022

Itchy Feet During Pregnancy Causes Symptoms and Treatment
Reviewed by Expert panel

When Reena who was now in her second trimester of pregnancy, complained of her recently cropped up issue amongst the already being faced list of pregnancy woes ranging from morning sickness, backache, constipation, increased need to urinate, leg cramps , varicose veins to something unusual, such as itchy feet many of her pregnancy whatsapp group members jumped on the bandwagon and  shared similar concerns being faced by them as well. The recent complaint which many others in the forum found annoying was itching on certain body parts such as their hands, feet, belly or chest. “The worst part is the more you think about it, the more itchier it gets!,” they all reported synchronously. Some of them even claimed it to be the cause of their loss of sleep. To this Reena added that it is the unusual isolated itching of her feet which is disturbing her the most lately. Often, itchy feet during pregnancy are common and not a cause of concern. However, if itching is severe, to an extent that it is affecting your day to day work as well as sleep, it becomes important to share the same with your doctor or health care provider to rule out any serious underlying cause for the same.

What are some of the causes of itchy feet when you’re pregnant?

Itchy feet during pregnancy could be due to- Not so serious conditions such as :

a)Hormonal skin changes: When one is pregnant the immune system works differently by temporarily increasing or suppressing certain functions of your body so that the baby grows in the best way possible. Besides this, the endocrine system does extra action during pregnancy which causes the skin to get irritated. The combination of hormones and immune system changes together can lead to itchy feet during pregnancy.

b)Increased Sweating: Being warm, feeling sweaty due to changing hormones and increase in blood supply to the skin can cause itching in feet. In addition to that, wearing tight clothing, wrong shoes, chafing, can also make one have an itching sensation on feet.

c) Psoriasis: It is a skin condition which may improve, stay the same or even worsen for some women during pregnancy. The rise in the hormone progesterone dampens the overactive immune response that triggers psoriasis symptoms. Some women continue to experience painful, itchy plaques even during pregnancy, which can occur on the feet thereby causing itchy feet. Usually women with psoriasis show no adverse pregnancy outcomes.

d) Stretching: During pregnancy the feet bear extra weight and the ligaments undergo stretching of their own which can further cause an itchy feeling on legs and feet.

e) Dry skin: This is more common, especially in climatic conditions that are extremely dry.  Dry skin can also be caused by dermatitis or eczema resulting from environmental and genetic factors. However, some pregnant women experience itchy feet due to dyshidrotic eczema that appears on feet’s sides and soles.

The symptoms that a pregnant woman notices due to above mentioned causes might  include:

  • Small, itchy bumps that resemble bug bites (purigo)

  • Rash-like itchy hives (PUPP)

  • Red, scaly, itchy patches (eczema or AEP)

Itchy feet due Serious conditions like:

  1. Intrahepatic Cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) : Genetic predisposition as well as hormonal and digestive changes cause the liver to not work the way it ideally should, which allows bile acids to build up in the body of the pregnant woman which can cause some intense itching, particularly on hands and feet. This liver condition usually shows up in the third trimester.Cholestasis can increase the risk of fetal distress, premature birth and even stillbirth. 

  2. Peripheral Neuropathy: In this the nerves outside the central nervous system gets damaged which results in symptoms like numbness, tingling, pain and itching in the hands and the feet. During pregnancy, lower extremity (feet) neuropathy is quite common due to nerve compression from the developing uterus. It can worsen in certain situations, particularly with insulin-dependent diabetes.

Symptoms when a woman has cholestasis of pregnancy might include:

  • Intense itching mostly on the palms of their hands and soles of their feet

  • No rash

  • Yellowing of skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)

  • Nausea

  • Loss of appetite

How can itchy feet during pregnancy be treated?

The several remedies that can offer some relief to the pregnant women might include:

  1. Moisturizers:  Calamine lotion can help lessen itchiness and impedes any irritation or inflammation from recurring. Certain unscented moisturizers such as cocoa butter, shea butter can also help in offering a soothing feeling from itchy feet.

  2. Cold Compress: Applying an ice pack wrapped in towels can offer respite from itchy feet. It aids to ease inflammation of the skin and can provide instant relief. Avoid applying it for more than 15 minutes.

  3. Besan Flour: It is one of the best natural remedies for treating itchy skin. This simple kitchen ingredient works amazing in providing instant relief from skin irritation, inflammation and itchiness. You can simply add curd to a spoonful of besan and make a smooth paste and apply it to the itchy feet, let it dry and wash off with water.

  4. Oatmeal bath: It is a simple natural and effective remedy which a pregnant lady can try at home.  You can add certain essential oils like geranium and juniper oil after consulting your doctor. These oils have some anti-itch and anti-inflammatory properties and can help alleviate itchiness.

  5. Aloe-vera gel: It is packed with phyto-components and exhibits anti-inflammatory, soothing and cooling properties. It aids in giving soothing and calming relief from itchy feet and dry skin.

  6. Coconut oil: It is one of the most effective natural remedies to alleviate itching. The fatty acids in coconut oil work as natural fungicides, causing the fungal membranes to break down and clear up. However, in some people it can cause irritation or an allergic reaction, so do consult your doctor before its application.

  7. Massage: Massage may help distract your nerves and decrease itchiness. Your partner, a friend or you yourself can massage gently without stimulating acupressure points.

  8. New socks: Loose-fitting socks made of natural breathable filters such as cotton can prevent sweating and thereby itchy sensation on feet.

  9. Medications: If itchy feet are due to eczema or psoriasis, chances are you may be prescribed medication by your doctor which is safe during pregnancy. Ultraviolet B Phototherapy may also be the preferred treatment option during pregnancy. 

What are some of the tests to perform if you have cholestasis?

When a pregnant woman presents with generalized pruritus (itching in the whole body or feet) during the second or third trimester, her doctor may ask questions about symptoms and medical history. He may perform a medical exam. He might also order blood tests to check how well her liver is working and measure the levels of bile salts in her blood. Once confirmed the doctor will monitor you more frequently and even suggest premature delivery of your baby if risks of continuing pregnancy with cholestasis outweigh early delivery.

Does this skin condition stay even after delivery?

The good news is that these skin conditions are mostly temporary and usually go away within a few days after the baby is delivered.Itchy feet may offer a bumpy ride and can be annoying too especially if it gives you sleepless nights during pregnancy. Hope you will find this blog with the suggested remedies useful. Please share with family and friends and add value to this blog by giving your valuable feedback in the comments section below.

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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