How to cope with dry skin during and after pregnancy

Medically reviewed June 2022
dry skin pregnancy Naytal

Pregnancy causes multiple changes to our bodies and in particular our skin. You may notice more stretch marks, get breakouts or enjoy the pregnancy ‘glow’ from increased blood volume’ One symptom that you may also experience is dry skin.

Whilst it might be uncomfortable and irritating, It is perfectly normal to experience dry skin during pregnancy, especially as your bump grows. Dryness, flaky skin and itching can normally be treated with over the counter solutions and will likely go back to normal after birth.

Here we share how to cope with dry skin during pregnancy and in the postnatal period.

What causes dry skin in pregnancy?

Dry skin in pregnancy is usually caused by two factors; hormones and dehydration.

Once again those delightful pregnancy hormones that are raging through your system can be blamed to some extent. These hormones are there to help your skin stretch and be a little bit more elastic during pregnancy to allow your bump to grow, but this stretching can make your tummy feel a little itchy and dry at times.

Secondly is dehydration. During pregnancy your blood volume levels increase by almost 30%. To aid this extra blood volume you will need to drink a lot more water during your pregnancy to stay hydrated and avoid dry skin.

Are there any other causes of dry skin?

Other factors which can generally cause dry skin include:

  • A change in climate which can occasionally cause some dryness of the skin, especially in the summer.
  • Extreme water temperatures that may affect your skin's ability to retain moisture - consider taking lukewarm showers or baths rather than exposing yourself to really high temperatures.
  • Washing excessively - constant exposure to the water may inhibit the production of the natural oils in your skin.

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Where am I most likely to get dry skin during pregnancy?

The majority of the time women experience dry skin on their tummies during pregnancy. This is due to your skin stretching and tightening to accommodate for your growing baby.

However, you may also experience dry skin on your face or around your arms, neck, breasts, nipples and thighs. It is perfectly normal to experience dry skin in these areas which tend to become a little larger during pregnancy. Dry lips can also be caused by dehydration.

What remedies are there for dry skin in pregnancy?

The easiest way to combat any dry skin is to increase your fluid intake. We should try to consume at least 2 litres of water a day under normal circumstances, and you may need to drink more during pregnancy to counteract higher blood volumes.

It may lead to very frequent trips to the toilet as there is less capacity for a full bladder when the baby is almost fully grown - but staying hydrated is a number one remedy!

Another remedy is hydrating moisturiser. It is a lovely experience for both you and your baby to have a full all over tummy rub after a shower or bath. Treat yourself to some nice creams or oils during your pregnancy and enjoy this bonding moment with your bump.

If your dry skin is particularly sore, try products that specially target dry skin or ask a pharmacist for help.

Other things you can try to combat dry skin include:

  • wearing SPF to protect sensitive skin and staying out of direct sunlight
  • limiting the length of showers and baths to avoid steaming which can make your skin dry
  • eat a nutritious diet with plenty of healthy fats
  • use hydrating bath products and oils

Natural remedies for dry skin during pregnancy

There are many natural ingredients which can help to soothe dry skin and itchiness which are safe to use during pregnancy. You can either find them within products or make moisturisers and treatments yourself at home.

Natural remedies for dry skin include:

  • coconut oil
  • honey
  • yoghurt
  • oat or milk bathes

Do I need to see a Doctor about dry skin?

It is unlikely that the dryness will become such an issue that you would need medical advice. However if you are concerned or if you are beginning to notice red patches or flare ups of eczema then may want to mention this to your midwife at your routine checks.

If you usually suffer from eczema and feel like you are having a flare up then please see your doctor or dermatologist as you would normally to discuss treatment options.

If you are experiencing severe itchiness or red bumps on your skin then you should speak to your doctor. Find out more about the causes and treatments for itching during pregnancy.

What about dry skin in the postnatal period?

Dry skin after you’ve had a baby is almost certainly down to dehydration, especially if you are breastfeeding. You can become very dehydrated if you don’t drink enough water and should aim for at least 2 litres of water a day or 2.5 litres a day for breastfeeding mothers. Paying attention to your fluid intake will definitely improve dry skin.

Want to speak to someone about your pregnancy or birth? Book a midwife appointment at a time that suits you to get specialist advice with any concerns.

Kate, Naytal Midwife

Kate has been a Midwife within the NHS for more than 15 years and supports women to work harmoniously with their bodies and tune into their intuitions.

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