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What causes dry skin during pregnancy?

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Quick Answer

As a woman's belly grows during pregnancy, the stretching of skin tends to make it dry, itchy and uncomfortable, according to WebMD. Women can alleviate some of the dryness by avoiding hot showers, patting the skin dry after bathing and applying moisturizer. Avoiding certain soaps or products formulated with alcohol also helps to prevent the drying.

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Full Answer

In women who already have dry skin issues, the dryness often becomes worse during pregnancy, according to Mayo Clinic. Dryness and itching often occur on the abdomen, thighs, arms and breasts. The hormonal changes of pregnancy may also increase allergies to perfumes, jewelry and other products.

During the second or third trimester of pregnancy, itchy, dry skin sometimes indicates a serious problem requiring immediate medical attention. Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) is a liver disorder that affects approximately 1 percent of pregnant women in the United States. It prevents bile salts from flowing normally, causing them to build up on the skin, which results in itching and dryness. While ICP does not cause a rash, the itching and scratching sometimes cause red irritation of the skin. The condition increases the chance of stillbirth. BabyCenter recommends women who think they are experiencing ICP contact a medical care provider immediately.

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