Q: At 34 weeks along, I am having intense itching on my belly, hands and feet. What could be causing this?
A: Although you should check with your OB to rule out an allergic reaction or other problem, the itching you describe may be a symptom of intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP). This condition occurs when liver function becomes impaired, resulting in increased levels of bile salts in the bloodstream. As the blood circulates, these salts are deposited in the skin, causing intense itching, particularly at night. ICP typically occurs in the third trimester and will resolve on its own once the baby is delivered.
If your doctor suspects this condition, he will likely order blood tests to confirm the diagnosis and evaluate your liver function. Once ICP is confirmed, he may perform ultrasounds and other tests to gauge your fetus's well-being.