Treatments and drugsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Treatment for cholestasis of pregnancy has two goals: relieve itching and prevent complications.
To soothe intense itching, your health care provider may recommend:
- Taking a prescription medication, such as ursodiol (Actigall, Urso), to relieve itching and decrease the absorption of bile
- Using anti-itch creams or lotions that contain corticosteroids
- Soaking itchy areas in lukewarm water
Using too much corticosteroid cream — as you might be tempted to do to relieve the intense itching associated with this condition — may pose a risk to your developing baby. Follow your doctor's instructions for using over-the-counter anti-itch creams, if he or she recommends that you use them.
To make sure your condition doesn't lead to complications with your pregnancy, your health care provider may recommend:
- Regular blood tests to monitor how well your liver is working and measure the amount of bile in your blood.
- Periodic ultrasounds and nonstress tests to monitor your baby's well-being. During an ultrasound, high-frequency sound waves are translated into a pattern of light and dark areas — creating an image of your baby on a monitor. During a nonstress test, your health care provider will check how often your baby moves in a certain period of time and how much his or her heart rate increases with movement.
- Early induction of labor. Even if the prenatal tests appear normal, your health care provider may suggest inducing labor early — at or near 38 weeks, or even earlier if cholestasis is severe — which is sometimes the best and only way to prevent complications.
- Bacq Y, et al. Cholestasis of pregnancy. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Aug. 31, 2011.
- Geenes V, et al. Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2009;15:2049.
- Liver disorders in pregnancy. March of Dimes. http://www.marchofdimes.com/professionals/14332_14543.asp. Accessed Sept. 1, 2011.
- Riely CA, et al. Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy. Clinics in Liver Disease. 2004;8:167.
- Skin conditions during pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp169.cfm. Accessed Sept. 6, 2011.
- Cappell MS. Hepatic and gastrointestinal diseases. In: Gabbe SG, et al. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/linkTo?type=bookPage&isbn=978-0-443-06930-7&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06930-7..50045-1. Accessed Sept. 6, 2011.
- Burrows R, et al. Interventions for treating cholestasis in pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2009:CD000493. http://www2.cochrane.org/reviews. Accessed Sept. 6, 2011.
- SAMe. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Sept. 6, 2011.
- Pathak B, et al. Cholestasis of pregnancy. Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America. 2010;37:269.
- Harms RW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 21, 2011.