Eczema After Pregnancy – Causes and Tips to Handle It
Congratulations! After encountering nine months of body changes and various ups and downs in hormonal levels, you now have a lively bundle of joy in your life. But for some of you, this happiness is still a far-fetched dream owing to the attack of eczema after pregnancy. Because of hormonal and skin changes that took place at the time of your pregnancy, eczema can make a comeback after delivery as well. We will share some tips on how you can manage your eczema condition after your delivery and beyond it as well.
What Causes Eczema After Childbirth?
Pregnancy is the most beautiful time in a woman’s life, but it can also be a tough time for those who have already faced a bout of eczema earlier in their lives. The physical stress of having a baby and the hormonal changes associated with it can contribute to unexpected conditions, like eczema, to flare up. Let’s see in detail the whats and whys of eczema after pregnancy:
1. Changes in the Immune System
Pregnancy brings a lot of changes in the body and the immune system. The immune system generally becomes weaker to accommodate the baby so that it cannot reject the baby as a foreign object. After the delivery, your immune system will start recovering and can, at times, overreact, leading to inflammation of the body and the skin, causing the eczema condition.
2. Changes in the Hormones
After your delivery, your body will start figuring out the correct balance of your hormones again. Hormonal eczema after pregnancy can cause your skin to get dry, making it itchy and flaky.
Post-pregnancy stress is one of the major reasons for eczema after delivery. Sleep deprivation can increase your anxiety levels which in turn can lead to eczema condition.
4. New Allergies
During and after pregnancy, many mothers develop new allergies. A quick allergy test can help you know the triggers to it so that you can avoid them and get relief from eczema.
How to Deal With Post-Pregnancy Eczema?
Eczema can develop after normal delivery as well as after c-section. The most important thing to avoid or contain eczema is to know the possible causes of getting it after delivery.
1. Environmental Factors
Environmental triggers are the most common reasons that can accelerate eczema after pregnancy. Pet dander, sensitivity to a certain food, lotions, harsh soaps, or even detergent powders could cause your eczema to worsen. Staying away or practising caution can be very helpful in controlling this skin condition.
2. Keep Your Skin Moisturised
Avoid using any harsh soaps on your body so that your skin does not dry out. Frequent hand washing should also be avoided as it strips away natural body oils and leaves the skin dry for eczema to develop. Apply moisturiser right after bathing or washing hands to lock in the moisture and prevent eczema. Always pat dry the skin instead of rubbing it to avoid triggering facial eczema or anywhere on the body.
3. Apply Aloe Vera Gel
The application of aloe vera gel or calendula can provide relief to the skin affected by eczema.
4. Black Currant Oil
Include black currant oil in your diet, approx 500 mg twice daily. It is rich in gamma-linolenic acid which is known to promote healthy growth of hair, skin and nails.
5. Avoid Dairy Products
Dairy is commonly known to flare up eczema. You can try avoiding dairy products and products that have hydrogenated oils and trans-fatty acids to check whether or not it is making any difference.
6. Tepid Baths
To alleviate your symptoms, you can use warm tepid baths, followed by an application of emollients and topical steroids. It is recommended that you consult a doctor before applying topical medicated creams to prevent any potential risk during breastfeeding.
7. Managing Stress
Practising yoga also helps in reducing your stress after delivery, thereby successfully combating eczema attacks.
Can You Breastfeed With Eczema?
The most uncomfortable area where a woman might get eczema is the areola or nipples. Nipple eczema can be an unusual case of eczema, resulted by some food the baby is eating that the mother is intolerant to. However, you can surely continue to breastfeed your baby with eczema. With eczema, breastfeeding can only stop if it hurts the mother. Breastfeeding actually helps to prevent other issues like plugged milk ducts and mastitis.
Here are a few tips for breastfeeding when you have eczema:
- You can apply an emollient and topical steroid on the affected areas immediately after feeds.
- Take utmost care to wipe off the topical medicines thoroughly from the nipples and areolas before nursing the baby.
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting bras, and wash off any moisture around your breasts with breast pads.
- You can also apply some breastmilk over the affected area. The fat present in breast milk will reduce dryness by retaining moisture in the cracked nipples.
Can Having Eczema Affect the Baby?
Eczema can be hereditary. If you or any of your family members have eczema, allergies, and autoimmune disorders like asthma, then your baby is more likely to be affected by eczema. However, if neither the parents nor the siblings have eczema, asthma, or hay fever, then the chances of the baby developing this condition are slim, like 1 in 10.
One important thing to note here is that there’s no way of knowing for sure whether or not the baby will develop eczema if the parents have had (or not) a history of eczema. Also, there is no clear scientific evidence that could state that any change or control in the lifestyle before conceiving or during pregnancy will prevent eczema.
Eczema sometimes heals on its own. Keep your skin moisturized and try to figure out your eczema triggers to be able to manage them successfully. Focus on getting enough rest and sleep to avoid any stress build-up.
1. Pregnancy and eczema; National Eczema Society; https://eczema.org/information-and-advice/living-with-eczema/pregnancy-and-eczema/
2. Facial eczema, National Eczema Society; https://eczema.org/information-and-advice/types-of-eczema/facial-eczema/#treatment-of-facial-eczema
3. Groer. ME, Jevitt. C, Ji. M; Immune Changes and Dysphoric Moods across the Postpartum. Am J Reprod Immunol.; PubMed Central; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4323631/; March 2015
4. Tanoko. MH; How to Nurse Your Baby When You Have Eczema on Your Nipples; National Eczema Association; https://nationaleczema.org/blog/breastfeeding-and-eczema/; November 2021
5. Kim. NS, Velykoredko. Y, et al.; Nipple Eczema; DermNet; https://dermnetnz.org/topics/nipple-eczema
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