Pregnancy means changes on changes. Sometimes it can be difficult to keep up with all the new cravings, odd symptoms, and physical adjustments happening at once.
One itchy phenomenon many pregnant folks experience is eczema. On top of everything else you’re dealing with, it can be tough to figure out how to soothe your inflamed skin.
Pregnancy eczema is surprisingly common — it’s actually the most prevalent skin condition affecting pregnant people. And more than half of those who develop pregnancy-related eczema have never dealt with the condition before.
Typically, it shows up during the first or second trimester and decreases slightly after that (though some people may experience postpartum flare-ups).
In addition to eczema, several other benign skin conditions can happen during pregnancy, including stretch marks and melasma. (Both typically fade after your little one arrives.)
Some of these changes are hormonal, while some may be related to a pre-existing condition. For the most part, skin conditions shouldn’t interfere with your pregnancy — they’re just an annoying side effect.
If you’re concerned about your symptoms, give your doctor a call.
If you’re on medication for an ongoing skin condition like psoriasis, you may need to pause the meds and stick to natural remedies. Your doc can help you figure out what to try.
Before you resort to medication to manage your eczema, try making some simple changes to your daily routine and see if your symptoms improve.
Here are a few options for relief:
As with any other dry, itchy spot on your skin, moisturizer can work wonders to counteract the dryness of eczema. You can use your regular moisturizer or buy one specifically designed to soothe itchy skin.
You could also try an oil to help with skin barrier recovery — coconut oil and sunflower oil are two options many people swear by.
Take cool showers
As relaxing as a hot shower might feel, it’s not doing your skin any favors (whether or not you have eczema). Long, hot showers can dry out your skin even further.
Try to take shorter showers and keep the water lukewarm or cool. You can still curl up under a blanket afterward for serious cozy vibes in the colder months.
Take an oatmeal bath
Don’t worry: We’re not actually suggesting you submerge yourself in a mushy mass of breakfast cereal.
Instead, use ground oatmeal powder — also known as colloidal oatmeal — which gives baths a milky, luxurious texture. The colloidal oatmeal should help soothe and repair that itchy skin.
Invest in a humidifier
This tip works particularly well during the winter months, when the dry air can irritate your skin.
Using a humidifier in your home will add moisture and prevent excessive dryness.
Wear soft, loose-fitting clothes
As a pregnant person, you’re probably thinking “Duh!” But use this as an extra excuse to rock those cozy pants.
To prevent an eczema rash from rubbing against your T-shirt or sweater, stick to fabrics that don’t further irritate your skin.
Cotton and silk are both gentle materials, especially when they don’t fit close to your body. Much as we love them in winter, thicker fabrics like wool can rub against your eczema and make it worse.
Avoid inflammatory foods
If you have any known food intolerances, now’s the time to avoid those foods. Processed foods and inflammatory ingredients can aggravate your immune system and bring on eczema symptoms.
Food intolerances can also change slightly as you go through pregnancy, so pay attention to what you’re eating to see if you can spot any triggers.
Your diet during pregnancy can affect your baby’s health, so be sure to talk to your doctor before making any major changes.
Bacterial imbalances in your skin can contribute to eczema breakouts. The quickest way to restore an abundance of good bacteria to your system? Probiotics!
Probiotics are likely available at your local pharmacy or grocery store, but talk to your doctor before you start using them regularly.
While research has shown that probiotics are generally safe during pregnancy, it’s always important to assess what’s best for your body specifically.
Eat foods rich in omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and great for restoring your gut’s natural balance, which (surprisingly) affects your skin.
Nuts, seeds, and green vegetables are all high in omega-3s, as is fish — but it’s best to limit your fish consumption during pregnancy due to the risk of heavy metal contamination.
For natural, safe omega-3s, try sticking to plant-based sources. Otherwise, do your research before consuming fish or fish oil to make sure you’re choosing a source that’s safe for you.
Apply a steroid cream
If natural treatments aren’t helping, your doctor may prescribe a steroid cream to treat your symptoms.
Topical corticosteroid creams are generally thought to be safe during pregnancy, but be sure to get your doctor’s advice on what will work best.
With a combination of these treatments, you can lessen or even get rid of your eczema symptoms. Rest assured that the condition will likely improve once you’ve given birth and won’t affect your baby in any way.
While eczema can be uncomfortable, it’s a common part of many people’s pregnancy experiences, and there’s no reason to fear serious long-term effects.
But it can definitely mess with your glow — so break out that moisturizer and go to town!