Hives during pregnancy may most commonly occur on the abdomen and may also spread to the limbs. Urticaria, often known as hives, is a skin condition marked by itchy, elevated red welts (bumps) (1). When you are pregnant, it’s common to feel hot and itchy, which might eventually lead to hives.
This post discusses the causes and symptoms of hives, treatment options, and associated concerns in pregnant women.
Is It Normal To Have An Outbreak Of Hives During Pregnancy?
There is no research to suggest that there is an increased risk of having hives during pregnancy. Your possibility of developing hives during pregnancy is the same as the risk during non-pregnancy times.
What Causes Hives During Pregnancy?
As your body undergoes changes during pregnancy, the immune system may perceive these changes as foreign. Thus, it releases histamine into the bloodstream, and this histamine could cause hives on your body and face (1).
Hives may be triggered by factors including (2):
- Animal dander
- Insect bites
- Fish, shellfish, eggs, nuts, milk, or other foods
- Exposure to sun, cold, or water
- Emotional stress
A severe kind of hives called pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) could develop in the third trimester. It appears in the stretch marks of the belly and spreads towards the chest and legs (3).
Symptoms Of Hives During Pregnancy
Hives mostly appear as tiny grouped welts on the arms, legs, and back. They may keep changing places too.
Pregnancy hives may be associated with any of the following signs and symptoms.
- Raised red welts on the skin
- Severe pain
- Localized swelling (angioedema)
- Itching sensation
- Dry skin
Treatment For Hives During Pregnancy
Do not self-medicate by taking over-the-counter medications. Consult your doctor and follow their prescription. For pregnancy hives, your doctor may prescribe over-the-counter antihistamines such as Benadryl, Allegra, Claritin, Chlor-Trimeton, and Zyrtec (4).
For a severe rash, such as PUPPP, they may suggest oral medications and anti-itch creams.
Natural Remedies For Hives During Pregnancy
Some natural remedies have been found to provide relief from itching and rashes. Some of them are:
- An oatmeal bath is found to relieve itching that is caused by hives (5). It is anti-inflammatory and has skin-protecting properties.
- Aloe vera is known for its cooling effect. Extract fresh aloe vera gel and apply it to the affected area (6). Leave it for some time and wash with cold water.
- Take a bath in lukewarm water as hot water may trigger excessive blood flow, aggravating the itch. Coldwater is a better choice as it could reduce the itch.
- Green tea has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It may, therefore, eliminate toxins and allergens, thereby relieving itching (7).
- It is believed that a clean cloth dipped in milk dabbed on the affected area may ease inflammation.
Tips To Prevent Hives During Pregnancy
If you are susceptible to hives, you may tend to experience them during pregnancy too. Therefore, following these tips could help prevent or minimize your risk of getting this skin condition.
- Avoid tight-fitting synthetic clothes, prefer cotton underwear.
- Avoid hot baths and hot showers.
- Do not put any pressure on your skin.
- Do not scratch your skin.
- Avoid stress.
- Avoid cosmetics with dye and perfumes
- Avoid detergents and softeners, use natural soap instead for your clothes, rinse your clothes well in extra cycle.
Do Pregnancy Hives Go Away?
Pregnancy hives may go away within a week of delivery. In some cases, they may last for six weeks after delivery.
Are Hives Dangerous During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy hives are usually harmless and clear up on their own. However, they could be problematic if you develop them in and around the genitals. In rare cases, a breakout of hives could lead to breathing difficulty, especially if it turns into anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) (1). Anaphylaxis is swelling of the face, eyes, lips and throat , you may experience breathing difficulty, it is an emergency and you need to visit a health facility as soon as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can hives predict the baby’s gender?
There is a belief that rash and itchy skin during pregnancy indicates a baby girl, whereas clear skin indicates a baby boy. However, it doesn’t have any scientific backing.
2. Can you get hives in early pregnancy?
If you are prone to hives, you are likely to get them in early pregnancy too.
3. Can hives affect the baby during pregnancy?
Hives in pregnancy may not harm the fetus in any way. Also, there are no reported risks to the baby while in the womb and after birth.
4. Are hives linked to miscarriage?
Hives are not related to miscarriage. There are no studies to link hives to miscarriage.
Hives is a skin infection that causes itchy, raised red bumps. Though not all pregnant women develop hives, its history may increase your possibility. Also, certain medicines, chemicals, seafood, and other factors can trigger hives during pregnancy. While most cases of hives resolve on their own, some may require medical intervention, but self-medication with OTC drugs is not recommended. Instead, taking preventive measures by avoiding tight-fitting, wearing synthetic clothing, and using home treatments like aloe vera gel, oatmeal bath, and other natural remedies could effectively alleviate hives and relieve you.
2. Hives; NHS
3. Chourouk Chouk and Noureddine Litaiem; Pruritic Urticarial Papules And Plaques Of Pregnancy (PUPPP); StatPearls Publishing (2020).
4. JoLyn Seitz; Pregnancy and allergies: Avoiding medication better for baby; Sanford Health (2018).
5. Caring for Yourself During Pregnancy and Beyond; UCSF Medical Center
6. Mahtab Alam Khan; Shara (Urticaria); National Health Portal (2017).
7. Amy Huddleston; Green Tea: Nature’s Rediscovered Ancient Medicine; Southern Illinois University Carbondale / Ethnobotanical Leaflets (1999).
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Dr. Burcu Saygan Karamürsel(MD)
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