Notice that the bigger your belly gets, the itchier it becomes? “Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause inflammation or itching,” explains Thelda Kestenbaum, M.D., a dermatologist at University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. To prevent itching, avoid hot showers and baths. Instead, bathe in warm water and use mild, fragrance-free body washes, such as Johnson’s Softwash Body Wash, $5, which also contains nourishing baby lotion.
Exfoliating dry, flaky skin from your belly weekly with an extra-gentle scrub will slough off dead skin and reveal fresh, smooth skin. Scrubs—such as Belli Skin Smoothing Body Exfoliator, $25, with green tea, ginseng and peppermint—should be pregnancy-specific or made for sensitive skin. Anything you normally would use on rough spots like elbows or feet is too harsh. Then, slather a hydrating oil or moisture-rich lotion on slightly damp skin to lock in softness. Try Mustela 9 Months Ultimate Hydration cream, $19; and Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula For Dry, Itchy Skin, $5, with healing vitamin E.