Managing Eczema During Pregnancy

The list of things that can cause an eczema flare up is never ending. Anything from stress to a certain perfume can cause an outbreak of eczema. Some women even report a change in their eczema symptoms that coincides with their menstrual cycle. So if the low dose of hormones released during menstruation can cause eczema to worsen or to clear up, how do the raging hormones of pregnancy affect eczema?

There are a lot of things that happen to a woman’s body during pregnancy. Stress levels can rise, hormones run rampant, and pregnancy-related queasiness can alter both routine and eating habits. While doctors have not confirmed that these changes and pregnancy can lead to intense eczema flare ups during pregnancy, many women report an increase of symptoms while pregnant. A smaller group, on the other hand, reported that their eczema actually cleared up during pregnancy.

The main obstacle to pregnant women with eczema is that they have limited resources with which to treat their eczema. Many of the medications that they use to control flare ups when they are not pregnant cannot be used during pregnancy. Here is a list of some of the most common eczema medications that cannot be used during pregnancy:

-Corticosteroids – When treating eczema both topical and systemic steroids can be used and neither is recommended during pregnancy as they cross the placenta. While they are not known to cause birth defects, corticosteroids are ill advised during pregnancy or while breast feeding.
-Antibiotics – Since eczema can cause secondary skin infections, antibiotics are often prescribed to clear up these conditions. While there are some antibiotics that are safe during pregnancy, others are not recommended if you are pregnant, if you plan to become pregnant, or if you are breast feeding.
-Cyclosporine – While this medication is not known to cause birth defects, there is a suspected link between this medication and premature birth.
-Mycophenolate mofetil – This medication has been proven to cause birth defects in animal studies and is, therefore, never advised for use during pregnancy. Women are urged to use contraception before, during and after using this medication to avoid becoming pregnant while on treatment.
-Calcineurin inhibitors – The oral form of this medication crosses the placenta and is found in breast milk which makes it unadvisable to use during pregnancy. When using the topical form of this medication, not as much is absorbed into the body, but it is not known what effects even a small amount can have on the fetus.

Since treatment options are diminished during pregnancy, women with eczema need to take extra care to avoid triggers that cause eczema flare ups which can include perfumes, certain soaps, sweat, heat, and wool just to name a few. They should also increase non-medicinal efforts to keep skin healthy such as keeping the skin moisturized and avoiding products that can irritate the skin. With a lot of diligence and a little bit of luck, eczema can be comfortably controlled during pregnancy.