It is quite common to have dry and itchy skin in pregnancy . However, that does not mean that it is not extremely irritating to have to itch all over all the time. Moreover, severe itching while pregnant can even indicate serious complications involving the skin or liver .
Itchy skin is not counted among the early pregnancy symptoms as it may occur at any stage in the first, second and third trimesters, depending on the underlying causes and your hormone levels. Moreover, only around 20% of all pregnant women experience the signs of itchy skin .
In most cases, itching starts during late first or early second trimester as your uterus begins to get bigger and your belly skin starts stretching while the hormone levels near their peak . Although it is also normal to have the symptom in the last trimester, itching in late pregnancy might signal underlying liver problems.
Like most other pregnancy pains and symptoms, the changing hormone levels are often to blame for making your skin dry and flaky, which leads to itchiness . Your skin stretching to accommodate the growing uterus is another common reason behind the problem .
Sometimes, dry skin and itching might be accompanied by rashes or red spots. These symptoms are often caused by pregnancy related skin conditions like pruritic urticarial papules and plaques (PUPPP)  or atopic and polymorphic eruptions . The exact causes of these conditions are still unknown, but some of them are more likely to occur when expecting twins or triplets . Pregnancy may also worsen the symptoms of skin diseases like dermatitis or eczema .
Super sensitivity to certain substances that never bothered you before pregnancy (e.g. chlorine in your swimming pool) may also be the reason behind the symptom .
Itchiness that occurs due to the skin stretching for accommodating the uterus usually affects the belly area, breasts, nipples, back, thigh and hips .
Other areas susceptible to dryness, flaking and itching because of the changing hormone levels include the legs, hands, feet , palms (palmar erythema) , neck and scalp .
Not all skin creams and lotions are safe for pregnant women. So, it is recommended to try and treat the symptom with the following tips and home remedies until it goes away on its own after delivery .
Using the following creams, lotions and moisturizing products can help to sooth the skin in relatively severe cases:
Your doctor may prescribe topical steroids or antihistamine creams  to reduce extreme itching caused by skin conditions like eczema. Medicated emollient creams may also be recommended by doctors to treat itchy skin at night . Your doctor may recommend taking Benadryl for soothing the itchiness at night, especially if it is resulting from an allergic reaction .
Obstetric cholestasis (OC) or intra-hepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) is a rare liver complication that affects around 1% of all pregnant women in US . It generally occurs during the third trimester, going away automatically after childbirth . Sometimes, the pregnancy hormones can slow down or stop the bile flow, leading to bile accumulation in the bloodstreams . The built-up bile then leads to persistent itching in different skin areas .
Sometimes, the itchiness may result from serious skin or liver conditions that can be harmful for your unborn baby unless treated properly . Make sure to contact your doctor or midwife in the following cases:
The ICD-9 code used for indicating this symptom is 698  while its ICD-10 code is L29 .