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The fact that some women have to deal with hives during pregnancy along with the various other symptoms that occur is unfortunate, but the good news is that this condition is considered quite rare. One of the main causes is the release of different hormones, which can result in the body releasing histamines that dry out the skin. Another cause is Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy, or PUPP, which can result in hives all over the body. Finally, the fact that pregnancy tends to stretch out the skin, depleting the moisture in it, means that some women can get hives on their stomach.
During pregnancy, there is a sudden imbalance of progesterone and estrogen in the body, which can cause certain antibodies to be released. This is most common in first-time mothers since the body assumes that the embryo is a foreign object that it has never seen before, prompting it to release antibodies to fight off what it assumes is an infection. Once these antibodies bind to the skin, the body increases its production of histamines, causing hives all over the body. Fortunately, these hives can typically be treated with antihistamines that have been confirmed as being safe for pregnant women to take.
One cause of hives during pregnancy is the aforementioned Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques, often referred to as PUPP. It tends to occur most often in the third trimester, resulting in itchy hives all over the body. Although this condition is usually considered harmless to both the mother and the unborn baby, it is typically quite uncomfortable, and does not often respond to antihistamines alone. Therefore, many women are prescribed oral steroids when necessary to control the itching, though this is usually a last resort since such medications are not typically ideal during pregnancy. If the body still does not respond to this treatment, the woman may be induced a few weeks early, especially if there is fear of infection due to any bleeding hives.
In some cases, the cause of hives during pregnancy is just due to dry skin, as it typically loses moisture as it is stretched out. This is often the cause when the hives appear only on the stomach, especially if it has grown particularly quickly. In such cases, stretch marks may also be present since they tend to occur when the skin is stretched quickly and is unable to repair itself due to lack of moisture. Women may be able to prevent hives during pregnancy due to dry skin by keeping the area moisturized with lotion. It is also often advised that pregnant women avoid using harsh soaps that tend to dry out the skin, as mild soap followed by cocoa butter or similar lotions can lock in moisture.