Eczema

INFORMATION FOR WOMEN HAVE ECZEMA DURING PREGNANCY OR BREASTFEEDING

The information provided below is for readers based in the United States of America. Readers outside of the United States of America should seek the information from local sources.

What is eczema?

Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is a condition characterized by inflammation and reddening of the skin, typically with itching (pruritus). Eczema can develop from a variety of triggers, such as medications and other substances, or even physical triggers such as light. It often comes as atopic dermatitis – an allergic kind of dermatitis that tends to run in families – which develops, goes away, and comes back in cycles over long periods of times (chronic atopic dermatitis).

How common is eczema during pregnancy?

Reports have estimated the condition to be present in 1.0 7.2 percent of adults. Furthermore, below the age of 65 years, atopic eczema affects women more often than men, and thus it can easily happen during pregnancy.

How is eczema diagnosed?

Diagnosis of eczema depends mostly on your history of symptoms and the physical examination. In particular, the presence of dry, itchy skin connected with a rash and peeling off of outer skin supports a diagnosis of eczema.

Does eczema cause problems during pregnancy?

The main effect of having eczema during pregnancy is disturbances in your sleep, due to itching, which patients tend to report is worse at night, probably because of the lack of distractions when one is trying to fall asleep. Severe cases also can lead to bacterial or viral skin infections, as well as problems in the eyes. Additionally, eczema can cause you psychosocial distress because it may be unpleasant to look at.

Does eczema during pregnancy cause problems for the baby?

Eczema in the mother has no direct effects on the baby. However, there is a very strong genetic component to eczema. Your child is 2-3 times more likely than other children to suffer from atopic eczema, if you or the childs father has the condition, and 3-5 times more likely to have the condition if you and the father both have it.

What to consider about taking medications when you are pregnant:

  • The risks to yourself and your baby if you do not treat the eczema
  • The risks and benefits of each medication you use when you are pregnant
  • The risks and benefits of each medication you use when you are breastfeeding

What should I know about using medication to treat eczema during pregnancy?

Medications used to treat eczema include topical corticosteroids, which are not considered dangerous during pregnancy. There are many options within this group of medications and generally, the choice depends on how effective one medication is for you compared with the other choices. Other types of medications include calcineurin inhibitors and phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors, which also are applied topically to the skin, and not ingested. Topical antibiotics may be used as well when the eczema leads to skin infection.

Who should NOT stop taking medication for eczema during pregnancy?

The medications are topical, not taken internally, and there is little absorption through the skin, so there is little reason to stop using them during pregnancy if they are working for you.

What should I know about choosing a medication for my eczema during pregnancy?

You may find Pregistrys expert reports about the individual medications to treat eczema here. Additional information can also be found in the sources listed at the end of this report.

What should I know about taking a medication for my eczema when I am breastfeeding?

Since the medications are topical, the main issue when you are breastfeeding is whether you have eczema on the breasts, such that the nursing infant might be exposed to the medication from your skin. If you can wash off the nipple area thoroughly and avoid transferring medication from close by on the breast, you should be able to breastfeed.

What alternative therapies besides medications can I use to treat my eczema during pregnancy?

Eczema can often be managed with use of moisturizers, antiseptic measures (good washing), and avoidance of factors that trigger the eczema, such as irritating clothing and soaps or detergents with fragrances.

What can I do for myself and my baby when I have eczema during pregnancy?

Follow your doctors recommendations, avoid factors that trigger your eczema, and use moisturizers and topical medications as needed.

Resources for eczema in pregnancy:

For more information about eczema during and after pregnancy, contact http://www.womenshealth.gov/ (800-994-9662 [TDD: 888-220-5446]) or read the following articles:

Mayo Clinic: Atopic dermatitis (eczema)

Cleveland Clinic: Eczema in Adults and Children

 

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General information

It is very common for women to worry about having a miscarriage or giving birth to a child with a birth defect while they are pregnant. Many decisions that women make about their health during pregnancy are made with these concerns in mind.

For many women these concerns are very real. As many as 1 in 5 pregnancies end in a miscarriage, and 1 in 33 babies are born with a birth defect. These rates are considered the background population risk, which means they do not take into consideration anything about the health of the mom, the medications she is taking, or the family history of the mom or the baby’s dad. A number of different things can increase these risks, including taking certain medications during pregnancy.

It is known that most medications, including over-the-counter medications, taken during pregnancy do get passed on to the baby. Fortunately, most medicines are not harmful to the baby and can be safely taken during pregnancy. But there are some that are known to be harmful to a baby’s normal development and growth, especially when they are taken during certain times of the pregnancy. Because of this, it is important to talk with your doctor or midwife about any medications you are taking, ideally before you even try to get pregnant.

If a doctor other than the one caring for your pregnancy recommends that you start a new medicine while you are pregnant, it is important that you let them know you are pregnant.

If you do need to take a new medication while pregnant, it is important to discuss the possible risks the medicine may pose on your pregnancy with your doctor or midwife. They can help you understand the benefits and the risks of taking the medicine.

Ultimately, the decision to start, stop, or change medications during pregnancy is up to you to make, along with input from your doctor or midwife. If you do take medications during pregnancy, be sure to keep track of all the medications you are taking.



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