Well, my itchy rash still hasn’t totally gone away, and a couple of weeks ago the itching flared up and started to drive me nuts again. I had both my midwife and my family doctor look at it, just to make sure it’s nothing serious (it’s not), and as expected, the doctor prescribed hydrocortisone cream. Although immediate relief to the intense itching would be very welcome, I’m not really a fan of hydrocortisone in most cases, because it only addresses the symptom (itching and inflammation) and not the cause. Inflammatory rashes are commonly a manifestation of an immune response, and I think it’s important to find out exactly what it is that the body is rebelling against.
I have narrowed the probable causes down to two things: excessive dryness (xerosis) and/or some sort of food allergy/sensitivity.
To address dryness, I have switched to an unscented oatmeal and shea butter lotion (Aveeno), which I apply liberally several times a day. For whatever reason, this stuff seems to do a much better job of moisturizing than petroleum jelly — and is probably much safer for frequent and potentially long-term use. Vancouver generally has a very humid climate, so if dryness is either the cause of, or is exacerbating the itch, incoming spring weather should start to bring some relief.
In terms of allergies or sensitivities, I don’t generally consume many of the common allergens: wheat, yeast, legumes, food dye, artificial flavour enhancers. The itching is pervasive enough for me to believe that if it is in fact food-related, it would have to be caused my something that features very regularly in my diet. The most obvious potential culprits, then, are eggs, dairy and/or nightshades (peppers, tomatoes, potatoes).
For the past week and a half I have eliminated eggs, and the itching has subsided somewhat, but of course this could also be a result of increased moisturization and atmospheric humidity. I will continue to avoid eggs for another week or so, and then reintroduce them to see if there is any obvious relapse. After, I will eliminate dairy for two weeks, followed by nightshades. If elimination of any of these foods proves to be beneficial, I will have to make the appropriate changes to my diet, at least for the duration of the pregnancy.
For my sake, I’m really hoping eggs aren’t the problem, since they are such a tasty, nutritious and convenient part of my diet; but then again, it sure would be nice to find the cause of the itching!