Cortisone cream, or hydrocortisone generically, is available with or without a prescription. Low-strength hydrocortisone cream, 0.5 percent or 1 percent, is a nonprescription cream you can use to relieve itching, rashes and minor skin irritations. Your doctor may prescribe higher-strength hydrocortisone cream if necessary to relieve skin problems and inflammation. Do not use hydrocortisone cream of any strength during pregnancy without consulting your doctor.
Talk to Your Doctor
Discuss any medication you use during pregnancy, whether oral or topical, with your doctor. Hydrocortisone cream is a steroid medication that in higher doses is in a pregnancy category C classification. Pregnancy category C means the medication is potentially dangerous to your unborn baby. A lower-strength over-the-counter cream also carries potential risks during pregnancy and needs to be discussed with your doctor prior to use. Doctors weigh the risks against benefits associated with a particular medication.
Pregnancy Skin Conditions
Changes in your hormone levels during pregnancy cause different types of skin conditions. Some of these conditions include general itchiness resulting from the skin stretching that occurs on your belly and breasts during pregnancy and other harmless pregnancy conditions, red and itchy palms and soles of feet due to higher estrogen levels or rashes due to sweating. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about any of these typically harmless skin conditions.
General Itching Relief
Itching is common during pregnancy, and home remedies may reduce your symptoms. Avoid hot showers or baths as they cause your skin to become dry and worsen itching. Use a mild soap when showering and rinse thoroughly. If you use a moisturizer, make sure it is unscented to prevent irritation and itching. Taking an occasional warm oatmeal bath my reduce itching -- you can buy preparations in stores. Also, avoid warm climates because of potential heat rash, and wear loose, cotton clothing.
Itchy Abdominal Bumps
One percent of pregnant women develop a harmless skin condition that causes itchy, red bumps and patches of a rash on their stomachs. The condition is called pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, or PUPPP. PUPPP is not harmful for you or your developing baby but causes considerable itching. Prurigo of pregnancy is another itchy, yet harmless condition causing bumps to appear on your arms, hands, legs and feet. Your doctor might choose to treat the condition with a topical ointment, but don't use over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream without medical instruction.