Cholestasis of Pregnancy

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Condition Basics

What is cholestasis of pregnancy?

Cholestasis of pregnancy is a liver problem that happens when the flow of bile slows down or is blocked. Bile then builds up in the liver and enters the bloodstream. It can make the skin very itchy. Home treatment and medicine can relieve symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptom is very itchy skin. The itching can be located anywhere on the body. But it most often happens on the palms of your hands or on the soles of your feet. The itching may be worse at night.

How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms. The doctor will also do a physical exam and ask you about your medical history. You may have blood tests or other tests.

How is cholestasis of pregnancy treated?

Your doctor may prescribe medicine. Medicine can help reduce bile acid levels and relieve itching. Your doctor also will want to watch you and your baby closely. To keep you both as healthy as possible, your doctor may recommend an early delivery.

How can you care for yourself ?

  • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribes them, use creams or pills to help with itching.
  • Use calamine lotion on itchy areas.
  • Avoid hot showers or baths. Hot water can make itching worse.
  • After bathing, pat excess water off your skin. Then apply moisturizer before your skin dries completely.
  • Try keeping your moisturizer in the refrigerator. It may feel better on your skin.


Current as of: July 10, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.