The list of things that can cause an eczema flare-up is long and varied. Anything from stress to certain perfumes can trigger an outbreak. Some women even report changes in their eczema symptoms that coincide 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 much higher levels of hormones during pregnancy affect the condition?
There are a lot of things that can happen to a woman’s body during pregnancy. Stress levels can rise, hormones can go wild, 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 in symptoms while pregnant. A smaller group, on the other hand, reported that their eczema actually cleared up during pregnancy.
Pregnant women with eczema often find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. The medications they used to control their eczema before pregnancy are often not safe to use during pregnancy. This leaves them searching for new treatments that are both effective and safe. Here is a list of some of the most common eczema medications that cannot be used during pregnancy:
-Corticosteroids – When it comes to eczema, both topical and systemic steroids can be used. However, neither of these options are recommended during pregnancy as they can cross the placenta. While corticosteroids are not known to cause birth defects, they are still ill-advised to use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
-Antibiotics – If you have eczema, you might be prescribed antibiotics to clear up any secondary skin infections. 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 breastfeeding. If you have eczema and are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk to your doctor about which antibiotics are safe for you to take.
-Cyclosporine – While no birth defects have been reported with this medication, there is a suspected link between its use and premature birth.
-Mycophenolate mofetil – This medication has been linked to causing birth defects in animal studies and is, as a result, never recommended for use during pregnancy. Women are advised to use contraception before, during and after using this medication to avoid getting pregnant while on treatment.
-Calcineurin inhibitors – This medication is available in both an oral and topical form. The oral form crosses the placenta and into breast milk, which means it’s not advised to use during pregnancy. Not as much of the topical form is absorbed into the body, but we don’t know what effects even a small amount can have on a fetus.
Pregnant women with eczema need to take extra care to avoid triggers that can cause flare-ups. These triggers can include perfumes, certain soaps, sweat, heat, and wool. Non-medicinal efforts to keep skin healthy, such as moisturizing and avoiding irritating products, are also important. With diligence and luck, eczema can be controlled during pregnancy.