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Pregnancy brings about a lot of different changes in the body. Some changes are expected, such as weight gain, but many mothers-to-be never expect to have itchy nipples during pregnancy. Not only is it an uncomfortable experience, it is also an embarrassing moment that most women don’t feel comfortable talking about to their loved one or doctor about.
Itchy nipples isn’t uncommon.
Most women state that they experience itchy nipples even before they know that they’re pregnant. This is one of the first symptoms witnessed during pregnancy, and while it may be somewhat uncomfortable, it’s not all that uncommon.
Why are my nipples itchy?
Itchy nipples and early pregnancy are linked. Your hormones are running wild at this time, and your body is producing some hormones that aren’t naturally present until pregnancy occurs. Many hormones are produced by the placenta to ensure that it’s not rejected by the body, but these same hormones can cause your nipples to itch.
Pregnancy causes your breasts to expand and grow. As a consequence, your nipples will also grow in size. The heaviness in the breasts can cause your nipples to itch, but this is just one of the many reasons for itchy nipples.
Increased sensation in the area is also experienced. Your whole body is more sensitive at this time, so it’s natural to be more aware of your nipples even if you don’t do it consciously. When the breasts and nipples begin to swell and get bigger, increased blood flow to the area is required.
The expansion of the nipples can cause them to become sore to the touch and even more sensitive as the hormones build up in your body. It’s not a comfortable experience by any stretch of the imagination.
Ultimately, it’s the stretching of the skin and the enlarging of the nipples that causes the itchiness.
Think of it as a cut healing. When you have a cut and the healing process occurs, you’ll often notice that it itches. This is the same thing that is occurring with your nipples, and it’s not a major cause for concern at all.
Unfortunately, there is bad news: itchy nipples in early pregnancy isn’t the end of the itchy nipple problem. When the third trimester hits, the breasts are going to swell even further and prepare for the baby to be born. After all, a woman would naturally breastfeed, so the breasts need a place to store all the milk. Even if you plan on using baby formula, nothing will stop the breasts from producing milk for the baby.
The issue will get worse at this stage along with increased sensitivity in the nipple area.
3 Ways to relieve itchy nipples
So, you have itchy nipples and you don’t want to go around scratching yourself in public. This is very understandable, and thankfully, you have a lot of options to relieve your itchy nipples. If you want to be comfortable once again, we have 3 ways to relieve the itch once and for all:
An obvious choice. A good lotion that has vitamin E is recommended. Vitamin E has been shown to reduce the signs of stretch marks which is great for mothers that don’t want stretch marks, and reduces itching.
Aloe Vera is another important and common ingredient in lotions. Derived from a plant, Aloe Vera is known to reduce itchiness.
By rubbing lotion into your breasts and nipples, you’ll relieve the itching and irritation. It’s recommended that you use lotion in the morning and before bed for best results.
Moisturizers are not the same thing as a lotion. While they appear the same, a moisturizer is meant to help lock in moisture in your skin. In this case, the moisturizer would ensure that the breasts and nipples do not get dry. Dryness is a major cause of itchiness and will occur during pregnancy if you don’t moisturize often.
Moisturizing before bed and after getting out of the shower in the morning is ideal.
With the right moisturizer, you’ll lock moisture in the skin so it’s not only smooth, but it doesn’t become dry and add to the itch you can’t scratch in public.
3. Petroleum Jelly
The final remedy is petroleum jelly. You’ll want to dab a little on your hands and rub it into your nipples. This jelly should be rubbed into the nipples multiple times per day.
When do you put the petroleum jelly on? After you moisturize is best.
Petroleum jelly will add even more moisturizer to your skin and ensure that it doesn’t dry out.
Your skin care products can cause your itchiness, so try to avoid harsh soaps and perfumes. These products are fine when you’re not pregnant, but they can cause itchiness when you’re pregnant. Remember, your body is extremely sensitive at this time, and the products that didn’t bother you in the past may bother you now.
A good maternity or nursing bra should also be worn to reduce sweat production, which can lead to itchiness.
Causes Of Itchy Nipples During Pregnancy
Itchy breasts during pregnancy is a common complaint among many women and can be caused by various factors. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to an increase in oil production, which can make the skin feel itchy. The skin on the breasts also stretches as the breasts grow and change in preparation for breastfeeding, which can also cause itching. Additionally, increased blood flow to the area can cause the skin to be more sensitive and susceptible to itching.
It is important to keep the skin on the breasts moisturized to reduce itching. This can be done by using lotions or creams that are specifically designed for use during pregnancy. It is also important to avoid wearing tight clothing that can irritate the skin, as well as to avoid hot showers and baths, which can dry out the skin and make itching worse.
Cool showers and baths can be soothing for itchy skin, and over-the-counter anti-itch creams can also provide relief. However, it is important to check with your doctor before using any over-the-counter products, as some ingredients may not be safe during pregnancy.
In some cases, itching in the breasts during pregnancy can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as a yeast infection or dermatitis. If the itching is severe or accompanied by other symptoms, such as a rash or swelling, it is important to consult your doctor.
What The Experts Say About Itchy Nipples During Pregnancy
Experts agree that itchy nipples are a common pregnancy symptom that can occur at any stage of pregnancy. Studies have shown that hormonal changes, skin stretching, and skin dryness are the main causes of itchy nipples during pregnancy. While the itching is generally not harmful, it can be uncomfortable for some women. Women who experience severe itching or discomfort should speak to their doctor, as this may be a sign of a skin condition or allergy. Additionally, experts recommend using gentle, fragrance-free soaps and moisturizers to help prevent itching and keep skin hydrated during pregnancy.
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- Eczema of the nipples and areolae. (2017, February). Consultant , 57(2), 129-131
- Itchy nipples during pregnancy. (n.d.)
- Jogger’s Nipple. (n.d.)
- National Cancer Institute: Paget disease of the breast. (2012,April 10)