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Many females who have eczema before giving birth will experience the condition worsening during pregnancy. This is known medically as “eczema gravidarum.” For some mommies, eczema may improve or go away entirely during pregnancy. Some women get worse after delivery and then see their skin clear up in about six months. It has been observed that female eczema sufferers who have a baby with atopic dermatitis (eczema) will see their skin improve. This suggests that there is a genetic link in some cases of eczema.
What is eczema:
It is a condition of the skin which causes it to become scorched, irritated, and inflamed. Symptoms may include itchiness, redness, dry patches on the hands or face, or cracked fingertips. There are several types of eczema, including atopic dermatitis (eczema), contact dermatitis (caused by an allergy after coming into contact with something like poison ivy), seborrhoea (scaly scalp), and nummular eczema (round spots that cause intense itching).
The exact cause is unknown, but genetics has been suggested as one possible reason for this problem in some cases. If your parents had severe allergies, heartburn/acid reflux problems, asthma, or any food allergies, you might inherit sensitivity in these areas.
How pregnancy trigger eczema:
Pregnancy causes changes in an expecting mother’s body and hormones that can lead to flare-ups in eczema. The skin becomes more sensitive, and certain foods may trigger an allergic reaction. Your risk of having eczema increases if you or your family members have asthma, hay fever (allergic rhinitis), food allergies (milk, eggs, nuts), or atopic dermatitis (eczema). It is best to avoid any potential triggers during pregnancy, such as heat, cold, stress, dust mites, and pets. Also, be aware of any itchy rashes developing after being outdoors during sunny days/heatwaves.
Hormonal changes are due to the surge of estrogen, which causes fluid retention causing swelling in the hands/face/knees. The swelling in the skin may cause more intense itchiness, which in turn causes scratching. If you are itching, it can lead to tiny breaks in your skin that allow bacteria to enter, causing infection. This will further cause inflammation, redness, and dry, extremely itchy patches of skin.
What are the symptoms of eczema?
The most common symptoms of eczema are:
- Intense itching
- Dry patches that are itchy and red
- Swelling in the hands, face, or other body parts
- Cracked patches of skin which can cause bleeding when severe
- Rough, scaly areas of the patches
- Blisters developing on hands/face/knees after scratching or being exposed to warmth (hot bath water) or excessive cold (snow).
Eczema severity is categorized into four types: mild, moderate, moderately severe, and severe. Depending on your skin condition before pregnancy and during the gestation period, many treatment options are available to control flare-ups. If you use steroid creams without medical supervision, this could lead to side effects such as skin thinning, hormone problems, etc. If you are pregnant, make sure to ask your doctor before using these creams.
Eczema changes early on in pregnancy:
If you have eczema before becoming pregnant, you should see your doctor for a check-up about six months before you plan to get pregnant. Your doctor will discuss how best to manage your condition during pregnancy and after delivery. Changes may take place very early on in the pregnancy or sometime later during the gestation period. As mentioned above, eczema may worsen during the first trimester and then improve around or after week 20. If you experience an increase in itching and rashes, this is an excellent time to see your doctor, who may want to adjust your medication (if applicable).
Eczema after childbirth:
After giving birth to your baby, the skin on your body returns to normal and may not be as sensitive or reactive. During pregnancy, it is essential to try and control eczema. It’s natural for you to be concerned about how having a baby will affect your pregnancy symptoms such as acne cysts, nausea and vomiting (morning sickness), fatigue, stretch marks, and weight gain. Eczema flares up after childbirth because of the changes in estrogen levels. These hormones can cause fluid retention, which leads to swelling in the body, especially around the hands/face,/knees.
Here are five things I learned about eczema after childbirth:
- Keeping good personal hygiene can control the flare-ups:
One of the first things you can do is wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer. Make sure your nails are cut short so that you won’t scratch too hard. Try not to touch any areas that are itchy/ inflamed, as this will worsen the condition. Also, avoid scratching your skin. If you need to, wear some cotton gloves at night or when sleeping to prevent scratching during nighttime hours. You could also apply petroleum jelly on raw patches of skin but make sure they are dry before doing so.
- Having eczema does not mean your child will have it too:
It is essential to keep in mind, having eczema doesn’t mean your child will get it. Some babies whose mothers had severe cases of eczema during their pregnancy or were delivered early, and these babies tend to be more sensitive to environmental factors like weather changes. Therefore, when you have a baby at home, make sure they share the same room/bed with you
- Maintaining a diet can prevent eczema flare-ups:
Eczema is often made worse by dairy products, eggs, peanuts, soy products, wheat, and other grains. It may sometimes cause an allergic reaction such as swelling and itchiness. If you experience a flare-up during breastfeeding (which I did), then it might be worth cutting down or eliminating these food groups from your diet to see if it helps with the condition at all. You should also eat more foods rich in Vitamin A (yogurt, carrots, broccoli), Vitamin B6 (chicken, turkey), and Vitamin E (almonds, sunflower seeds).
- Avoiding allergens can also help:
I found it best to avoid fragrances/chemical-based products during pregnancy, which made me sneeze and cough a lot. My skin felt sometimes soothed after I used natural ingredients such as coconut oil or Shea butter on my body following showers/baths instead of moisturizing creams because it contained fewer chemicals compared
- You can breastfeed your baby:
Contrary to the myth that if you have eczema, you can’t breastfeed, it is possible. Some women produce less milk when their babies are exposed to allergens such as peanuts or soy, so they may need to supplement with formula/breastfeeding for some time after birth. If your baby shows signs of difficulty breathing, unmask congestion, or has hives/rash post-breastfeeding, this could be an allergic reaction, and you should consult your physician immediately.
Early identification and treatment of eczema:
- Women who suffer from eczema before/during pregnancy may need to see a physician for advice on how best to control it.
- Women who have experienced severe eczema during pregnancy should be monitored closely even after delivery because the condition can suddenly worsen.
- If you are breastfeeding before/after childbirth, it is best to have the same physician manage your pregnancy and post-pregnancy care.
- Obstetrician physicians may explain how your eczema can affect your baby’s health. They will also work with dermatologists or allergists to help create a safe treatment plan during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
What are the tips to prevent eczema flare-ups at home:
At times it becomes difficult to visit a skin doctor for skin ailments. Here are some simple tips to relieve your eczema symptoms at home:
- Take lukewarm baths without using too much soap or bubble bath.
- Apply moisturizers 20 minutes after your shower/bath while the skin is still damp for better results.
- Use a humidifier in winter months to relieve dry skin conditions on the skin and around the nose that can worsen eczema symptoms.
- Always keep your hands clean and try not to scratch or rub the affected areas of the skin because it could lead to infection.
- Use cool/cold compresses instead of hot water when bathing, especially if you have severe eczema on your face.
- Wear gloves when washing dishes, cleaning, cooking, and going outside on cold days, especially if you have made contact with harsh chemicals on your hands causing flare-ups of eczema symptoms on your hands as well as other affected areas of your body such as your face, neck, etc.
- Try home remedies such as apple cider vinegar, oatmeal, and baking soda baths, or aloe vera to relieve itching and relief symptoms.
- Change your bedding/linen sheets frequently, especially if you have been sweating overnight during sleep.
- Wear loose clothes which allow air to circulate the skin, avoiding tight clothing such as pantyhose or socks.
- Avoid scratching when you are in public to help prevent the spread of infection to other areas. Don’t pick at scabs either! Let them fall off on their own.
- Keep fingernails short and neat to avoid scratching yourself accidentally while sleeping.
- Seek medical attention from time to time if needed based on how severe your eczema is.
- Try alternative treatments like homeopathy, herbal remedies, acupuncture, etc., to relieve symptoms.
These are few tips that can help control the symptoms of eczema. However, it is best to consult a homeopathy doctor for advice on managing to flare up symptoms.
Benefits of using the homeopathic treatment for eczema post-childbirth:
- The prevention & cure for post-childbirth eczema is to be treated right after delivery to avoid recurrence in the future.
- The homeopathic doctor uses potentized drugs in diluted form without any side effects, which are safe even if taken during lactation.
- It cures the problem of itching, scaling, dryness, and redness of the skin to a significant extent.
- Homeopathic treatment helps in preventing the recurrence of eczema in future pregnancies by 90%.
- Homeopathic treatment has a holistic approach and can cure eczema right of its root.
- Homeopathic treatment for eczema is entirely natural, and the doctor does not recommend any allopathic medicines. It helps strengthen the immunity of the mother’s body to fight against many problems on its own without a need for any external help or treatment.
- Proper homeopathic treatment for eczema post-childbirth prevents the chances of post-delivery stress caused due to eczema and helps in bonding with an infant.
If you consider taking homeopathic treatment to treat your eczema post-childbirth, ensure you visit a registered homeopath. You can book an appointment through OHO Homeopathy, discuss your case with our homeopathic doctor, and get expert advice. You can also take a virtual consultation with our online homeopathic doctor and find the proper treatment by making an appointment through OHO Homeopathy.