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How to deal with dryness during pregnancy

During pregnancy, many women experience dry skin and eyes. This can become severe, especially for contact lens wearers. Learn how to get relief from this frustrating pregnancy symptom.

Dry skin during pregnancy

In the grand scheme of pregnancy signs and symptoms, dryness often gets overlooked — until it becomes a problem. If you’re experiencing dry skin or dry eyes, find out how to get relief.

We talked to experts and moms to get the scoop on how to get the help you need.

What causes pregnancy dryness?

During pregnancy, your body goes through a lot of hormonal and physical changes. These significant changes trigger a variety of symptoms, many of which are less than comfortable. Dr. Edward Kondrot of the Healing The Eye & Wellness Center attributes dryness to hormonal changes, stress and nutritional changes during pregnancy. Women may experience eye dryness, itching, redness and burning. Many women complain of dry hands and a dry face, but skin dryness can occur anywhere on the body.

How to relieve dry eyes during pregnancy

According to Dr. Kondrot, a combination of lifestyle and dietary changes can often relieve symptoms. He recommends getting more vitamin A from dark green, leafy vegetables. Omega oils may help as well. Ask your healthcare provider about safe ways to get more omega oils. “Artificial tears and lubricating eye drops are the second line of treatment. They can be used as often as every hour to help reduce the symptoms of dry eyes,” says Dr. Kondrot. “The best are those that are preservative free.” If your contact lenses are increasing your discomfort, you may need to switch to wearing glasses until your eyes have a chance to heal from irritation.

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Real moms chime in on dry skin relief during pregnancy

We asked experienced moms what got them through the worst of skin dryness during pregnancy.

  • Emily experienced dry shins. “They were ridiculously dry and itchy. They bled and flaked like crazy. Gross,” she says. “I used Lubriderm Advanced lotion every couple of hours. It helped some, but didn’t completely fix it. But was the best I found.”
  • Jacquie’s skin was so itchy she was afraid she had a severe skin condition. She found that Aquaphor ointment helped. Her doctor suggested she eliminate otherwise soothing hot showers. Although it worked, she says, “I was non-thrilled when doctor gave me that advice.”
  • “My hands bled they were so dry,” says Daisy. “If I was diligent with Kiehl’s hand cream, pure shea butter from Whole Foods and exfoliation, it was manageable.”
  • Anne’s hands were especially dry during her second pregnancy. “Trader Joe’s coconut body butter and the heavy-duty Curel lotion helped,” she says. “My hands are still dry.”

Healthy habits can help with dryness during pregnancy

  • For both skin and eye dryness, plenty of hydration can help relieve symptoms.
  • When taking showers and washing hands, stick to warm water.
  • Use a humidifier in your room at night.
  • Try to use a moisturizer with natural ingredients and no artificial fragrances or chemicals.
  • While it can be difficult — thanks to all the demands of pregnancy — reducing stress may also help. “Relaxation techniques, meditation, deep slow breathing can all balance your autonomic nervous system and improve dry eyes,” says Dr. Kondrot. Try to work your favorite moisturizer into your relaxation routine, taking time to relieve dryness.

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