Itching or rash
Skin rashes can occur for a variety of different reasons and are relatively common in pregnancy. Although they generally do not pose harm to you or your baby, in occasional cases they may be associated with an infection that can be transmitted to your baby. For this reason, it is recommended that if you develop a widespread rash during pregnancy, you contact your GP that day/the next morning.
Am I Immune?
Throughout life, we all encounter many viruses and bacteria. As part of our defence mechanism, the body makes antibodies to help fight infection.
If you have antibodies against a particular virus or bacteria, you are immune, and the antibodies help to prevent or reduce the impact of getting the infection again.
You can get more information on infections during pregnancy by clicking here.
For more information on local services please click here.
When should you worry?
Contact your GP within 24 hours (if at the weekend call NHS 111) if you have:
- A new generalised rash anywhere on your body. Please alert the GP receptionist as they may want you to wait in isolation rather than the main waiting area.
Contact your GP within 24 hours (if at the weekend call NHS 111)
- You have itching to palms of hands or sole of your feet. You may need a blood test to rule out obstetric cholestasis (a build-up of bile acids in your body).
- You have come into close contact with someone with an infectious rash, and you don’t think you are immune.
- Parvovirus (slap cheek)
- Syphilis (Sexual transmission)
- You think you have genital herpes
Self care at home if:
- You have come in to contact with someone who has chickenpox but you have had chickenpox previously.
- You have come in to contact with someone who has measles or rubella but you have previously had two MMR vaccinations or had the infection previously.
- Some infections do not affect the development of your baby.
- Scarlet fever
- Hand, foot and mouth
Contact your maternity unit if you are still concerned
Protecting yourself against infections during pregnancy
Contracting cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection during pregnancy poses a risk to the developing baby, as some of these babies are born with permanent health problems. CMV is found in bodily fluids, including urine, saliva, blood, mucus and tears. It is spread through close contact with bodily fluids. The main way pregnant women catch CMV is from small children’s saliva and urine. So women who work with children, or who have a family already, need to be especially careful during pregnancy. For information about how to minimise this risk, click here.
The parasite that causes toxoplasmosis is found in the poo of infected cats and in infected meat. You can also catch it from soil that has been contaminated by cat poo.If it spreads to your baby it can cause serious complications including miscarriage, especially if you get infected early in pregnancy. For more information about toxoplasmosis, click here.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection.If you have genital herpes during pregnancy, there's a risk your baby could develop a serious illness called neonatal herpes; please alert your GP or midwife. Women whose first infection with herpes occurred before pregnancy can usually expect to have a healthy baby and a vaginal delivery because they will transfer protective antibodies to their baby during the pregnancy (unless the baby is born extremely prematurely). For more information about genital herpes, click here and for more information about neonatal herpes, click here.
Do’s and don’t for avoiding infections that can affect your baby during pregnancy:
- wash your hands before preparing food and eating
- wash hands, knives and chopping boards thoroughly after preparing raw meat
- wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly to get rid of any traces of soil
- wear gloves while gardening
- wear gloves while emptying cat litter trays and empty them every day
- wash your hands after touching a child’s urine or saliva. Wash your hands well for 15-20 seconds using soap and water.
- avoid eating raw or undercooked meat, or cured meats like salami or Parma ham
- avoid drinking unpasteurised goat's milk or any products made from it
- do not touch or handle pregnant sheep or lambs
- do not put things in your mouth that have been in your child mouth. Try not to share food, cups or cutlery, or put your child’s dummy in your mouth
- avoid getting saliva from a baby/young child in your mouth. Try giving your child a kiss on the head instead of the on the lips.
- avoid vaginal, anal or oral sex if you or your partner have herpes blisters or sores, or a tingle or itch that means an outbreak is coming.
- avoid letting your baby be kissed by anyone who has an active cold sore
Your local maternity unit is staffed 24 hours a day with obstetrician s and midwives to help care for you, your baby and your pregnancy related health concerns. For some AMBER concerns it may be possible to be seen in a midwifery led unit if it is more convenient for you. For health concerns that are not related to your pregnancy you are advised to see your GP, call NHS 111 out of hours, or attend A&E if it is an emergency.
To find the contact numbers for your local maternity unit, please click here.
- Labour line (maternity advice line) - Many maternity units provide women with a central advice line often called “labour line”. You are advised to call this number if you think you might be in labour. The phone is answered by a midwife 24hours a day. They will ask you questions, assess you and give advice. When the time is right they will arrange for you to attend your preferred place of birth, or arrange a midwife to come to you if you are planning a homebirth.
- Community Midwife- Your community midwife provides you with all routine maternity care from your first “booking in“ appointment in early pregnancy to discharging you to the care of the health visitors when your baby is 2 weeks old. She will give you information on keeping you and your baby healthy during pregnancy and refer you to specialists if required.
Whilst you may have individual contact details for your community midwife, if you are concerned about your pregnancy we advise you call the maternity unit on the numbers provided because staff are available 24 hours a day. Please do not leave urgent voicemails or text on a community midwife’s phone.
GPs assess, treat and manage a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, give vaccinations and can arrange referral to a hospital specialist should you need it. Whilst pregnant, you will have regular appointments with a midwife but it is still important to continue with any ongoing care from your GP.
NHS 111 can ask you questions to assess your symptoms, give you advice or can put you in touch with a GP out of usual working hours.
A&E departments provide vital care for life threatening emergencies, such as suspected heart attack or breathing difficulties. If you are not sure it’s an emergency, call 111 for advice.