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When an Itch is Not Just an Itch – Cholestasis

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Some pregnant women, particularly in their third trimester, experience intense itching in their hands and feet. This condition, other than the itching, does not cause serious complications to the mother. With that being said, Mayo Clinic does list the following as common symptoms of cholestasis which affects the mother:

Intense itching
Dark-colored urine
Light-colored bowel movements
Yellow eyes or skin

So what causes this condition? Scientists don’t know the exact cause, but what is clear is that cholestasis is any condition in which the flow of bile from the liver is blocked. During pregnancy, it is called intrahepatic cholestasis due to it occurring inside the liver.

So although intrahepatic cholestasis doesn’t have serious complications for the pregnant mother, it can be dangerous for a developing baby. For instance, there is the danger of a premature birth or an increase in meconium which if inhaled by the baby during delivery could cause breathing problems. The ultimate risk is fetal death, usually occurring late during pregnancy.

What can be done?

First of all, if you begin to experience the symptoms listed earlier, it is best that you see your physician. Your doctor will perform a series of tests to confirm your diagnosis. Once cholestasis is confirmed, the doctor will work to decrease your itching – from recommending soaking in lukewarm water to using an anti-itch cream containing corticosteroids or prescribing anti-itch meds.

Thereafter, your liver will be monitored as well as regular blood tests done. Ultrasounds and nonstress tests that monitor your child’s well-being is a customary precaution used on a periodic basis too. But to save the baby from any complications, the normal procedure recommended is to induce labor. It is safer to induce labor around 38 weeks, but if the cholestasis is severe, it may have to be done earlier.

So, an itch may not be just an itch. Know and watch your body for any changes that may come about. It just may just save your baby’s life.

Best in Health!

Source: Mayo Clinic

Dita Faulkner is a freelance writer that has no idea what’s the big fascination with football. What?

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.